Patients with severe blood cancers or non-malignant blood diseases can often be saved only with a bone marrow transplant (BMT). However, in low-middle income countries (LMICs) this procedure is rarely accessible either due to the lack of physician training, hospital infrastructures, drug availability or unaffordable cost.
In 2011, the UIC GlobalBMT initiative was launched to partner with hospitals treating patients with hematologic diseases in LMICs where BMT is highly needed and patients cannot afford to travel to other countries to receive treatment.
Currently, the UIC Center for Global Health has collaborative agreements for developing BMT in Nepal, India, Cuba, Bolivia, Greece, Ukraine and Nigeria. Another project in development is in Uganda.
Our initiative’s main objectives are to facilitate: local capacity building in BMT, implementation of health services in hematology-oncology/BMT, and conducting collaborative research. We value growing through collaborative relationships with our in-country colleagues, allowing each of us to better understand the local needs, strengths, and meanings, and how to best address the medical, socio-cultural, policy, and training challenges in each country.
The approach that we have developed together with our global partners has included the following activities:
- arranging exchange visits to meet health providers and administrators and discuss implementation plans before and during the program development;
- providing education through meetings, lectures, one-to-one discussions and through hosting international providers at UIC for training;
- sharing and helping adapting UIC BMT policies/guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) in local countries;
- providing continue remote assistance to LMIC partners;
- e) establishing research projects engaging local investigators as authors of publications and research proposals.
Thanks to the already established active collaborations with several hospitals in LMICs, we established a GlobalBMT Network which focuses on promoting continuous education and research activities to sustain the growth of BMT; promoting quality standards in BMT for better patient outcome; providing a continuous remote support to clinical BMT programs in LMIC. GlobalBMT meetings have been held in Nepal in 2017 and 2019, in Cuba in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and in Bolivia in 2019.