The University of Illinois at Chicago and the Binaytara Foundation have partnered to develop Nepal’s first blood and marrow transplant unit and to organize the country’s first international conference on blood cancers.
Stem cell transplantation, a standard procedure for the treatment of many blood cancers in developed countries, is not yet offered in Nepal. The country also lacks medical specialty training in hematology or oncology. In an effort to promote evidence-based medicine in South Asia, a conference was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, September 2013. Clinicians and researchers shared knowledge on the diagnosis and management of blood cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. UIC CGH faculty including Damiano Rondelli, Valerie Dobiesz and Tim Erickson gave presentations and led expert panel discussions. The conference was a huge success and more than 250 attendees from Nepal, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and China attended.
The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System and the UIC Center for Global Health hosted four clinicians from Kathmandu Civil Service Hospital this Fall, 2013. While visiting Chicago, the Nepalese physicians observed all aspects of blood and marrow transplantation, including clinical care, blood banking, stem cell collection and administrative operations.” Many cancer patients in Nepal are in need of stem cell transplants, but they currently do not have this option,” said Dr. Damiano Rondelli, chief of hematology-oncology and director of blood and marrow transplant at UI Hospital. “Our efforts and presence in Nepal are aimed at developing a partnership to address the need for training medical specialists that will translate into better care for a larger number of people in a wonderful and still developing country.”
The Binaytara Foundation and UIC will assist physicians from Kathmandu Civil Service Hospital with opening the first blood and marrow transplant unit in Nepal that will serve thousands of patients from Nepal and neighboring India. The unit is expected to begin performing autologous stem cell transplants in the next year, followed by allogeneic transplants from compatible donors. UIC physicians will support the Nepalese physicians through training, guidelines, telemedicine support and occasional visits to the hospital in Kathmandu. The foundation and UIC also partnered to provide a year-long blood cancer telemedicine course to 100 clinicians in developing countries.
Center for Global Health Director Tim Erickson visited in April, 2013 to formalize a UIC affiliation agreement with Civil Service Hospital, and to participate in an emergency medicine training program there. Following this effort, Dr. Erickson and Dr. Michael VanRooyen (Director, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Harvard University) led a group of 30 physicians up to Mt. Everest Base Camp as part of a Wilderness Medicine Continuing Medical Education program. A second ascent is planned in 2014-15 to raise money and awareness for the newly developed cancer center and the Binaytara Foundation.
The Binaytara Foundation was founded by Dr. Binay Shah, a former hematology/oncology fellow at UIC who now practices in Idaho. For more information on this project visit http://bam2013.binayfoundation.org/