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SickKids raises CDN$8m for care of Caribbean children

Published:Monday | April 20, 2015 | 4:52 PM
Ted Garrard, president and chief executive officer of SickKids Foundation.

Partnering with six Caribbean countries (including Jamaica), The University of the West Indies (UWI) as well as other philanthropic organisations, SickKids Foundation has surpassed its CDN$8 million fundraising goal for the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative, to significantly improve care for childhood cancer and blood disorders.

The initiative includes a five-year plan for addressing the region’s gaps in research, care and education in order to advance the diagnosis and management of paediatric cancer and blood disorders.

Working in partnership with Barbados, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and The Bahamas, the goals of the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative are three-fold: to train health professionals in oncology, nursing, laboratory analysis and pharmacy; to provide consultation and diagnostic expertise; and to improve outcomes by developing and expanding access to diagnosis, treatment and supportive care.

The partnership with UWI along with health care facilities in each of the six partner countries has led to significant advancements that are expected to change the future of health care for children diagnosed with cancer and serious blood disorders.

Significant achievements include training Jamaica’s first two paediatric oncologists – Dr Michelle Reece-Mills of The University Hospital of the West Indies and Dr Sharon McLean-Salmon of Bustamante Hospital for Children; prior to this, Jamaica had no certified paediatric oncologists.

It also led to the opening of five telemedicine rooms in Barbados, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and The Bahamas, and upgrading the existing one in Trinidad and Tobago, enabling medical professionals in the Caribbean to connect with SickKids oncologists and haematologists, and other medical institutions around the world, to collaborate on clinical consultations and facilitate training and education to support the early identification and treatment of children living in the Caribbean.

There is also a nursing training programme to further educate and train nurses in specialised areas of treatment for cancer and blood disorders. They also have established a local hospital-based oncology database and hired a data manager in each partner country to capture demographic, treatment and outcome data which will help to improve the clinical management of paediatric patients and inform the design of future interventions.

“The SickKids-Caribbean Initiative demonstrates innovation in collaboration among both medical partnerships and donor support across countries,” said Ted Garrard, president and chief executive officer of SickKids Foundation.

“Just over two short years ago we set a goal to raise CDN$8 million in five years and we are thrilled to have not only surpassed the financial goal early, but also to have set in motion the fundamental components of this Initiative that are already having an impact on children’s health.”