Updates on INCTR USA’s Pediatric Oncology Program in Ethiopia

Dr. Sheila Weitzman, a member of the Steering Committee for INCTR USA’ s Pediatric Oncology Program in Ethiopia, visited Tikur Anbessa Hospital in Addis Ababa in early June. The program is a collaborative project with the University of Addis Ababa, Tikur Anbessa Hospital and Georgetown University in the USA which aims to improve the survival of children and adolescents with cancer in Ethiopia. During her visit, Dr. Weitzman introduced the staff to protocols for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphomas, Wilms tumor, retinoblastoma and osteosarcoma. She also conducted a detailed needs assessment in order to determine what services need to be put into place before treatment protocols can be formally started.

The needs assessment was facilitated by Dr. Alemnesh Wolde, the on-site Project Leader. Dr. Amha, Dr. Damte Shimelis, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, the senior nursing staff including Sisters Aster Degefu and Asabech Degalu, Mr. Bekele, Head Pharmacist at Tikur Anbessa and Dr. Ephrem Abiba of the University of Addis Ababa School of Pharmacy provided required information for the assessment and worked with Dr. Weitzman to devise strategies to ensure that the hospital will be ready to initiate standard protocol-based care for many pediatric cancers. Over the next few months, active training of nurses, pharmacists and pharmacy technologists will be undertaken. The establishment of a continuous supply-line of chemotherapy and supportive care drugs as well as reagents necessary for laboratory services that is sustainable will be put into place.

Two Tikur Anbessa Hospital staff pediatricians, Drs. Haileyesus Adam and Abdulkadir M. Said, have already taken responsibility for the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology program for children less than the age of 14 years, while Drs. Amha Getiremedhan and Abdulaziz, two fully trained adult hematologists, will be responsible for the adolescent patients. Plans are being made for Dr. Abdulkadir to spend 6-8 weeks at the Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam with Dr. Trish Scanlan, who leads INCTR’s pediatric oncology program in Tanzania. A formal Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Training program is being developed with the University of Addis Ababa. Drs. Haileyesus and Abdulkadir will be the first fellows to go through the training program, but it is hoped that they will be joined by pediatricians from centers outside of Addis Ababa.

Read previous articles about the development of the Pediatric Oncology Program in Ethiopia:
1st International Symposium in Pediatric and Adolescent Oncology in Ethiopia
INCTR and Children in Crossfire (CiC) Visit Tikur Anbessa Hospital, Ethiopia
Follow Up Visit to Black Lion Hospital, Ethiopia

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