Dear Friends,

Aslan had a stellar first quarter in 2023! We are excited to share some milestones from the past few months.

Our Expanding Fellowship Program

In January, we welcomed five new trainees to our pediatric hematology-oncology (PHO) fellowship program. Together with our cohort of six second year fellows, the group of eleven is exceptional – demonstrating advanced clinical skills, commitment to the rigorous training, and deep compassion for the children in treatment and their families. The future is bright for pediatric cancer in Ethiopia with this group of talented physicians at the helm!

New Institutional Partnerships

In the first quarter of 2023, we welcomed two new collaborators to Ethiopia: France's Alliance Mondiale Contre le Cancer (AMCC), which will implement a retinoblastoma early detection and treatment program, and IIPAN, a malnutrition training and prevention program led by Columbia University. Both teams conducted successful meetings in Ethiopia in mid-March, and we look forward to partnering with them to introduce these complex and vitally needed interventions.

An Inspiring Visit to Ethiopia

In March, Medical Director Dr. Aziza Shad and Executive Director Julie Broas conducted an extensive program assessment in Ethiopia. Crisscrossing the country, we visited our partner programs, welcomed new collaborators, and held stakeholder meetings.

Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) roundtable

The capstone of the trip was two discussions with FMoH leadership. First, H.E. Dr. Dereje Duguma, the State Minister of Health for Programs, and his senior team met with Dr. Shad and Julie, all nine of the country’s senior PHO physicians, and the heads of Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital (TASH) and St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College (SPHMMC).

Following a presentation by Dr. Shad about the Aslan-led development of the country’s pediatric cancer healthcare system, the group brainstormed initiatives to improve service delivery and sustain the system locally.  The FMoH has already prepared an action plan to implement the group's recommendations.

Meeting with Minister H.E. Dr. Lia Tadesse

Following the larger group meeting, we had the privilege of a private discussion with H.E. Dr. Lia Tadesse, the Minister of Health. She recalled her first meeting with Dr. Shad a decade ago, and recognized Aslan’s integral role in building Ethiopia’s pediatric cancer capacity. Dr. Lia also committed to prioritize the advancement and sustainability of pediatric cancer care throughout the country. Read Dr. Lia's tweet here.

Hospital site visits

Our assessments of our partner programs, TASH, Jimma University Medical Center (JUMC), Gondar University Specialized Hospital (GUSH), and SPHMMC, were equally impressive. 

Led by our expert PHO physician partners, the PHO units at each site have grown substantially, both in the number of patients treated as well as in their functional operations; patient sign-offs, morning rounds, multi-disciplinary teams, and quality of care all function effectively. Hospital leadership demonstrated both a strong commitment to PHO staff and services and a vision for future growth. Each site also expressed gratitude to Aslan through ceremonies recognizing our contribution and mentorship.

TAPCCO's "homes away from home"

A trip to Ethiopia wouldn't be complete without visiting TAPCCO's "homes away from home" in Addis Ababa, Jimma, and Gondar. Thanks in large part to long-time funding from Aslan, TAPCCO seeks to eliminate treatment abandonment by creating restful, supportive, and welcoming communities that bring joy to the children and comfort to their families.

On our trip we saw TAPCCO staff counseling parents of new diagnosed children, supervising play and art therapy, teaching parents to weave straw baskets that can be sold for spending money, and leading dance parties at the housing compounds. Parent after parent described how TAPCCO’s services were essential to their children's treatment and expressed thanks for Aslan’s support that offered hope for their children.

We left Ethiopia feeling energized by our decade of accomplishments, the importance of our work to come, and the expertise and dedication of our growing community of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, psychologists, NGOs, faculty, hospital administrators, and government officials who are working successfully to change the story of pediatric cancer in Ethiopia. 

We thank each of you for your tireless commitment and support throughout the years – we truly could not have achieved these milestones without you by our side. We hope that you will continue to stand with us as champion change-makers through a one-time donation or by joining our Legacy Campaign with a sustaining annual gift.

In gratitude,

The Aslan Project Governing and Medical Advisory Boards

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