Make a Year End Gift!

Dear Friends,

This year, The Aslan Project celebrated the 10th anniversary of our opening of the first dedicated pediatric oncology unit in Ethiopia’s history. We started our work at Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital in Addis Ababa with a humble mission: to share the expertise of our small cohort of volunteer physicians and nurses so that children with cancer who came to that hospital for treatment had a fighting chance of survival.

Over the past decade, our reach and impact have far exceeded what we envisioned was possible. That one pediatric oncology unit has grown into five comprehensive pediatric cancer programs throughout the country, which collectively have treated more than 4000 children with cancer. The number of pediatric hematologist-oncologists has grown from zero to nine with eleven more in training and up to seven more trainees expected to join next year. Scores of nurses and tens of pharmacists assigned to the units have received training in pediatric oncology. And programs led by the Ethiopian non-profit, TAPCCO, that provide free housing, psychosocial services, transportation, nutrition, and other supports now serve parents and children in treatment at all five centers.

2023: Reaching Mission Goals

Fueled by this momentum, 2023 has been perhaps the most remarkable year yet. Each of our capacity-building focus areas has realized major gains, further expanding access to and quality of care and fostering sustainability: 

  • Fellowship training: A fourth university hospital, St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa, established a pediatric hematology-oncology (PHO) fellowship training program and we added new international partners from India and Pakistan to our abroad training roster;
  • The Rising Nurse Project: This collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) fully achieved its mission goal this year, as the Ethiopian-Aslan task force successfully developed a manual for training pediatric oncology nurses that was certified by the FMOH as the national standard and utilized in pilot trainings at all five programs;
  • Pediatric Cancer Registry: Reflecting years of work in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ethiopia’s first pediatric cancer registry – and the country’s first nationwide hospital-based cancer registry – officially launched in September 2023;
  • Satellite Clinic Grant: Our PHO task force secured an ambitious three-year grant from Foundation S (formerly My Child Matters) to increase access to pediatric cancer care and reduce the incidence of treatment abandonment – two major factors in improving survival rates – by establishing eight satellite clinics attached to the established pediatric cancer programs; and 
  • International collaborations: We welcomed two new highly successful collaborators to fill specific gaps in capacity – France's Alliance Mondiale Contre le Cancer, which is implementing a retinoblastoma early detection and treatment program, and IIPAN, a malnutrition training a prevention program led by Columbia University.

Aslan Recognized as "Instrumental" During WHO/IAEA Mission Trip

The capstone of the year occurred last month. Our co-founder and Medical Director, Dr. Aziza Shad, was appointed the international pediatric cancer representative to a joint mission of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency to assess and improve comprehensive cancer control in Ethiopia. The mission team engaged in a rigorous week of visits to the country’s major cancer centers and subsequent meetings to discuss and present their findings to the FMOH. At the conclusion of the mission, the FMOH recognized Aslan specifically as the “pioneer of pediatric cancer in Ethiopia.”

Ethiopia has officially requested inclusion among priority countries of the WHO’s Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer (GICC), which would bring significant resources and increase prioritization of childhood cancer at the national level. The WHO has responded positively to the request, noting that the support provided by Aslan and its partners was instrumental to its response. We look forward to sharing further news of the GICC selection process in the coming months!

This progress is nothing short of revolutionary.  That it has been spearheaded and sustained by our small non-profit organization is thanks to the tireless dedication of our volunteer Medical Advisory Board and your generous partnership. We extend our sincerest thanks to you for joining our community of visionary changemakers and hope that you will consider a year-end gift to help us cement the gains of the past decade and ensure that Ethiopian children with cancer have access to the care they deserve to survive and thrive.

With warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season,

The Aslan Project Board of Directors

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The Aslan Project

4315 50th Street NW

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Washington, DC 20016

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