Today the Botswana-Baylor Children’s Center of Excellence and the government of Botswana signed a memorandum of agreement to build the first children’s hematology and cancer center of excellence in Gaborone.
“Approximately 40,000 children a year are diagnosed with cancer in sub-Saharan Africa, and 20 percent of those children survive, compared with 80 percent in the U.S.,” said Dr. David Poplack, director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers and professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. “This center of excellence, in partnership with the Botswana Ministry of Health, will change those numbers in favor of the children of Botswana.”
When pediatric oncologists from Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers began working at Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone about 10 years ago, it was the first pediatric oncology program on the continent. Today’s agreement expands that commitment to include the first stand-alone cancer center of excellence devoted exclusively to treatment of children with cancer and blood diseases.
“The purpose of this agreement is to provide finance, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the state-of-the-art Botswana Children’s Hematology and Cancer Center, which will be built next to the teaching hospital at the University of Botswana,” said Shenaaz el Halabi, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health. “The Ministry of Health has had good relations with the Baylor Pediatric International AIDS Initiative dating as far back as 1999, which gave birth to the Baylor Children’s Center of Excellence in 2003. Since 2006, pediatric oncologists from Texas Children’s Hospital have been working at Princess Marina Hospital.”
The partnership responsible for the development and management of the children’s cancer center in Gaborone includes the Botswana Ministry of Health, the Baylor College of Medicine Pediatric AIDS Initiative and Texas Children’s Hospital.
“Today’s ceremony provides further evidence of our continued commitment to the children of Botswana,” said Mike Mizwa, chief operating officer of BIPAI and director of Texas Children’s Global Health. “We look forward to another decade of expanding our programs to meet the needs of sick children, including care and treatment, professional education for physicians and other healthcare professionals and groundbreaking research.”
The Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Center of Excellence is the product of a partnership between the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative, the Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone and the government of Botswana. Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers is a joint program of Baylor and Texas Children’s Hospital and is the pediatric program of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor.