On May 11-12, 2016, the Aslan Project and Jimma University, in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Society for Pediatric Oncology (SIOP), and Childhood Cancer International (CCI), hosted Ethiopia’s first Workshop on Children with Cancer.

Jimma University (JU) in collaboration with the USA-based Aslan Project organized a workshop on Children with Cancer in Ethiopia: Improving Access, Survival and Quality of Care.

The partnership between JU and Aslan Project was launched in February 2015 when the two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish the Ethiopian Pediatric Hematology/ Oncology Program at Jimma University Specialized Hospital. Since the last one year efforts were well underway with the partners in providing hands on training for nurses, pathologists and pharmacists to build their capacity in the treatment of children and adolescents with cancer.

PHOTO: aslanproject.org

PHOTO: aslanproject.org

The Workshop aimed at promoting pediatric cancer treatment to all relevant stakeholders, and disseminates information to respective institutions in the country. It will provide a wonderful opportunity to initiate discussions on the matter and share knowledge and experience among renowned professionals in the field. It is attended by representatives from various institutions like; the Aslan Project promoters, World Health Organization, Ministry of Education, Universities, Teaching Hospitals and regional and district hospitals in the South Western part of Ethiopia. The Workshop was followed by inauguration of children cancer treatment unit at JU’s Specialized Hospital.

The guest of honor at the opening of the workshop, Professor Fikre Lemessa, President of JU stated that JU has three decades long track records of delivering health services to the South Western Region of Ethiopia, since the establishment of Jimma Institute of Health Sciences in 1983.  Since then, the university has been striving to expand its health services both in terms of quantity and quality which can be testified by the university’s effort to launching one of the biggest hospitals in the country with the arts of the day medical equipment to deliver high quality services. He further underlined that the university is about to realize an advanced cancer treatment center of which the Pediatric Oncology Unit will be a part. He has also emphasized on the importance of initiating discussions in the areas of cancer treatment for children, raise awareness that children with cancer can be treated and cured and, join hands to make sure that children have access to cancer treatment. He also underlined that, expanding access to treat children with cancer, increasing their rate of survival and ensuring better quality care needs a swift, systematic, coordinated and unified approach.

Present on the occasion also was the USA Ambassador to Ethiopia her Excellency, Patricia Haslach. She expressed that supporting the development and strengthening the health care system and, improving the quality of health of Ethiopians has been and continues to be a major goal of the United States government in Ethiopia. She highlighted on the importance of a healthy population for the advancement of a nation in many aspects of life. As a result the US government is a strong partner of the Ethiopian government to help Ethiopia and its citizens achieve their health goals. She has also stressed on the partnership between Jimma University and the US institutions and Embassy in Ethiopia, which is traced back to 1952 when Oklahoma State University helped establish Agricultural Technical School as Part of the Point Four Program. JU is still a very strong partner of the US Embassy in Addis Ababa and this can be furthered to promoting quality health care services.

The second day of the workshop was attended by Her Excellency, Mrs. Roman Tesfaye, the First Lady of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, who delivered concluding remarks at the end of the workshop.

According to her, cancer treatment is precious and very much needed service to address the overstretched problem in the country. In line with that, the Ethiopian government has given sufficient attention to alleviate the existing problem. With regard to children with cancer, she stated that, there is low rate of survival in Ethiopia attributed to lack of quality and accessible services, equipment and skilled man power in the area.

She appreciated JU’s effort of establishing such a huge hospital facility with magnificent cancer treatment center that could serve the South Western part of the country with the catchment of 15 million people. JU has made a significant stride in expanding cancer treatment services in the country which is only restricted to Black Lion Hospital in the capital. She has also further underlined that the university should further its effort to become the center of excellence in cancer treatment and specially in treating children and adolescents with cancer.

She has finally highlighted the vitality of identifying potential partners to improve cancer treatment capacity in Ethiopia, as the issue requires a coordinated and holistic approach by soliciting sufficient resources. The case in point according to her is, the JU-Aslan Project partnership which is instrumental in organizing this wonderful workshop and launching a pediatric cancer treatment unit at JU’s specialized hospital. She called all other relevant institutions to initiate partnership of this nature by way of supplementing the already undergoing efforts by the government.

Mrs. Roman has also visited the JU’s specialized hospital and the cancer treatment center accompanied by the top management of the university.

Source: Jimma University
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