First-of-its-kind children’s cancer center launches in Botswana capital
Today, the Botswana-Baylor Children’s Center of Excellence (COE) 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. “This COE, 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 Hospital began working at Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone, 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 the 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 BIPAI 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 have been working at Princess Marina Hospital.”
The partnership responsible for the development and management of the Children’s Cancer Center includes: the Botswana Ministry of Health, Baylor College of Medicine Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) and Texas Children’s.
“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 health care professionals and ground-breaking research.”