UB houses first Paediatric Cancer Centre in Sub-Saharan Africa
Dated : 02.03.2017
The University of Botswana will house the first ever children’s cancer and haematology centre in Sub-Saharan Africa. President Lt. Gen Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama announced when he launched construction of the Centre at a ground-breaking ceremony held at the University of Botswana Academic Teaching Hospital on February 21, 2017.
The Centre, which will be known as the Botswana Baylor Paediatric Cancer and Haematology Centre of Excellence, is a collaboration between the Government of Botswana, Baylor Centre of Excellence Trust, Baylor College of Medicine International Paediatric AIDS Initiative, Texas Children’s Hospital and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.
“It is without doubt that the Centre, which will be constructed on this very ground, will make Gaborone both a national and regional hub for paediatric oncology, training, research and care, using the Centre of Excellence model that we have come to know so well,” said President Khama.
He said the project represented a critical expansion of the country’s health service delivery and a welcome development to the region as well. “Our young doctors, scientists and other health professionals will be trained and capacitated in a state of the art facility by skilled staff,” he added.
President Khama reckoned that the Centre was poised to be a high point of the country’s health agenda as the country moved into the next decade of development. In addition, he said the Centre must be seen as an excellent example of an all-encompassing approach to managing cancer and haematology in children. That, noted the President, would be done with the best available evidence in clinical care and top notch expertise in an environment that engendered compassion, humaneness, empathy and respect for the delicate lives the Centre’s staff would be handling.
The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Mr Emmanuel Blin, said the initiative to construct an oncology centre and to train staff was the beginning of the largest and most comprehensive oncology network to treat paediatric cancer in southern and eastern Africa. The initiative, he said, was more urgent to avert the loss of an estimated 90 per cent of children diagnosed with cancer in southern and eastern Africa. “This is not acceptable but beginning today this will change,” he observed.
As such, Mr Blin said while awaiting construction of the oncology centre, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation would commit US$50 million over the next five years to train oncologists. He said the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital would contribute another US$50 million as well.