Growing our work in sub-Saharan Africa
Growing our work in sub-Saharan Africa
In 2024, the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation will mark 25 years of working in Africa, a partnership that began at the height of the continent’s HIV/AIDS epidemic and has since expanded to address other serious diseases, including pediatric, lung and cervical cancers.
We’ve created lasting partnerships that are really built on trust and sustainable change, so that whatever the problem, we’ve got the groundwork in place to respond – always with the aim of improving the lives of patients in vulnerable communities.”
|John Damonti, President, BMS Foundation|
Here's a look at two Foundation initiatives celebrating recent achievements
New hope for children with cancer
A child diagnosed with cancer in Africa has about a 20% chance of survival, a striking difference from a child in a developed country, who has a more than 80% chance of survival. To take on this disparity, Global HOPE (Global Hematology-Oncology Pediatric Excellence) was launched in 2016 in partnership with Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative at Texas Children’s Hospital (BIPAI) and the governments of three African countries.
Global HOPE focuses on strengthening healthcare infrastructure by establishing pediatric cancer centers of excellence; training local doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals; and expanding access to treatment and supplies.
"Our partnership with the BMS Foundation has been transformational for the care of children with cancer and blood diseases in sub-Saharan Africa,” said David Poplack, director, Global HOPE.
"It’s enabled us to establish treatment and training programs in six countries, and our impact goes far beyond those sites; we have now trained 26 pediatric hematology-oncology specialists – where before there was only one – who are leading care in 12 centers across six countries, and our online nurse training has been accessed in 20 African countries. None of this would be possible without the support of the BMS Foundation."
Built on the success of its long, successful partnership on pediatric HIV, Global HOPE has to date reached nearly 17,000 children and trained more than 6,000 healthcare practitioners across 42 countries.
Cancer care in more communities
In July of last year, a cancer patient received the first-ever chemotherapy infusion in the small, landlocked country of Lesotho. The milestone, at the Senkatana Centre of Excellence Clinic, was part of the Foundation’s ongoing work in Lesotho to provide wide-ranging resources and in-service training for pharmacists and oncology nurses. The Foundation launched the Senkatana clinic more than 20 years ago, as the country’s first adult anti-retroviral clinic to fight HIV/AIDS, and later expanded the center to address needs in tuberculosis, and now cancer diagnosis and treatment.
“For over 20 years, we’ve worked side by side with the people of Lesotho. As HIV has progressed to a more chronic condition there, we’re now able to support Lesotho through its first cancer treatment center,” said Damonti. “We want no patient left behind.”
The landmark achievement in Lesotho is just one of the most recent stories of how the Foundation is helping to broaden access to cancer care on the continent, and narrow the gap between Africa’s cancer survival rates and those of its wealthier peers.
Remembering Phangisile Mtshali
Phangisile Mtshali, who led the work of the BMS Foundation in Africa and China, passed away in January 2023. Her 23-year career with the Foundation started with the launch of SECURE THE FUTURE, which focused on providing care in the countries hardest hit by the HIV epidemic.
Over the decades, Phangisile labored to create access to care, partnering with governments, nongovernmental organizations, faith-based organizations and international agencies to strengthen and expand treatment facilities and provide training and education to healthcare professionals.
Phangisile’s legacy lives on through tens of thousands of now thriving men, women and children and a generation of healthcare practitioners now in leadership positions in the public and private sectors in communities throughout many countries in Africa, India, China and around the world.