Project HOPE and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation set up a program to help children with cancer in Central and Eastern Europe
Project HOPE, an international health education and humanitarian assistance organization, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation have announced a new program to improve the care and quality of life of children living with cancer. Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has assigned almost 150,000 US dollars to this innovative international project, aiming at training health care professionals in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.
As part of Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Bridging Cancer Care initiative, Project HOPE will be responsible for developing a case management model that will enhance pediatric oncology care, as well as coordinate economic and psychological support for pediatric patients and their families.
“The ultimate beneficiaries of the program will be children with cancer and their families,” said Dr. Judit Csiszar, Regional Director-Europe, for Project HOPE. “The children will receive high quality and more comprehensive care in their own communities provided through improved coordination and use of resources as a result of the Project HOPE case management model.”
Cancer is among the leading causes of death in children and adolescents in Europe. Though there have been the considerable advances in the diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer over the past few years, there is still a wide gap between the survival rates in Eastern and Western Europe.
The lower survival rates in Eastern Europe may be attributable to the poorer quality of treatment and care and inadequate access to diagnostic and treatment technologies .
In Poland there are 1100 new patients with childhood cancer each year. Early diagnosis of childhood cancer guarantees much better chances of recovery. However in Poland cancer is identified at an early stage amongst only 8% of child patients, while in Western Europe this rate is 25%. For this reason the education of health professionals in the field of diagnostics is crucial.
“The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s activities include the support of the initiatives that help reduce health disparities in different parts of the world. In Europe the Foundation focuses on cancer. We believe that this program which is focused on coordinating clinical care and supportive services for children with cancer and their families, and implemented with a partner so experienced in health education as Project HOPE, can really improve the quality of life of children suffering from cancer, and result in better treatment and quality of life outcomes of childhood cancer in four Central and Eastern European countries,” said Peter Koetsier, General Manager Bristol-Myers Squibb Polska.
The program will be launched in four countries: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. The two-year program will employ a “Train-the-Trainer” model that will involve local health care professionals. Local health care professionals will be trained to train others to build groups of Master Trainers who, in turn, will provide continuous education, mentoring and support to colleagues in their countries. The training sessions will start in January 2010.
Each multidisciplinary team of local health care professionals to be trained will include a doctor, a nurse, a psychologist and a social worker. Together, the team will be trained to provide health and psycho-social care in hospital settings and in the communities where children with cancer and their families live.
The training program will be organized with the cooperation of the University Children’s Hospital (UCH) in Krakow, Poland, with Professor Walentyna Balwierz, Head of the Oncology Department, leading the effort. The international faculty for the training program will include experts from the United States, the United Kingdom and Central-Eastern European countries.
About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health problems with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now provides medical training and health education, as well as conducts humanitarian assistance programs in more than 35 countries. For more information, please visit www.projecthope.org.
Project HOPE Poland
Project HOPE Poland Foundation was established in 1997. However, its history of involvement in the country commenced in 1974, when the Polish Ministry of Health and Welfare invited Project HOPE to Poland in order to provide assistance to the Polish-American Children’s Hospital in Krakow. During the past over 35 years,
Project HOPE has provided medical education programs for more than 6,500 health professionals in Poland and provided over 700 fellowships for Polish health professionals in Western Europe and the United States.
About Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
The mission of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is to help reduce health disparities by strengthening community-based health care worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and mobilizing communities in the fight against disease.
The Foundation has targeted four diseases and regions:
• HIV/AIDS in Africa, where the AIDS pandemic continues to spread;
• Hepatitis in Asia, where millions are chronically infected with hepatitis B;
• Cancer in central and Eastern Europe, where access to cancer education, treatment prevention and care is especially needed;
• Serious mental illness in the U.S., where underserved populations often need enhanced care and support.
Bridging Cancer Care is the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s program for grant-making and partnership development to address cancer disparities in Europe – particularly Central and Eastern Europe. Since 2007, grant-making has focused on several issues, including enhancing psychosocial support for cancer patients and their families, expanding training and awareness for professional and lay health care workers, developing palliative care services for rural areas and breast cancer disease education and screening for at risk women.
In Poland in 2008, the Urszula Jaworska Foundation received a $375,000 two-year grant to initiate and build psychosocial support programs in Poland
University Children’s Hospital of Krakow, formerly known as Polish-American Children’s Hospital, affiliated with Jagiellonian University, is the largest and most comprehensive pediatric health-care facility in the south-eastern part of Poland. Dedicated exclusively to meeting the health-care needs of children, the hospital has more than 500 beds. The leading departments of the hospital are Department of Pediatrics with Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Oncology Department providing state-of-the-art diagnostics and treatment.