National Cancer Survivors Month

Our organization works to increase survival in childhood cancer care through a holistic, end to end approach. We do so using innovative programs in partnership with expert teams that share our mission. In celebration of National Cancer Survivors Month, BLFA recognizes how the programs and partners we support have increased childhood cancer survivorship in Africa.
St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor received support from BLFA to focus on improving pathology capacity for treating children with cancer in Gulu, Uganda. With the support of this grant, St. Mary’s increased complete and partial remission for patients from 35% to 60%.
Partner: St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor
Source: BLFA 2021 Cancer and COVID Webinar
BLFA’s Pathology Improvement Program (PIP), along with our corporate partner Beckman Coulter and our African collaborators in both Uganda and Kenya, successfully implemented state-of-the-art flow cytometry diagnostic equipment at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Kenya and Uganda National Health Laboratory Services (UNHLS). This allows them to provide more rapid and accurate diagnosis for childhood cancer patients. Thrilled about this new equipment, MTRH Pediatrician Dr. Gilbert Olbara commented, “If we address the initial delays in our patients, then we’ll be able to improve the outcome of overall survival.” Every day saved in diagnosis and every treatment completed has the potential to save a child’s life.
Practitioners at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital measured the impacts of this new technology. They found that using this diagnostic equipment decreased time to diagnosis from 10 to 7 days. The earlier and more accurate diagnosis led to a significant decline in treatment abandonment from 35% to less than 5%. Most notably, Burkitts Lymphoma patients diagnosed after implementing this equipment had a survival rate of about 75% at 100 days post-diagnosis, compared to the historical 100-day survival rate of around 55% - a 20% increase.
Partner: Beckman Coulter, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital
Source: Dr. Gilbert Olbara, AORTIC 2021 Workshop, 2021 Pediatric Blood Cancer Study
Research conducted by ICCARE determined that children with cancer abandoning treatment was caused by both health system inefficiencies and individual factors. In response, ICCARE received support through a BLFA grant award to support a hostel where patients and caregivers stay free-of-charge for months during the course of their treatment, reducing treatment abandonment. In a recent report to BLFA, ICCARE shared that patients who used the hostel service had lower treatment abandonment (27% vs 37%) and higher one-year overall survival (47% vs. 37%), compared to patients who did not use the hostel. Holistic support is critical in making childhood cancer patients become childhood cancer survivors.
Partner: International Cancer Care and Research Excellence Foundation (ICCARE)
Source: Dr. Kristin Schroeder, "Pediatric Cancer Outcomes After the Implementation of a Residential Hostel in Tanzania" 2022
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