Burkitt's Lymphoma Project
OGRA Foundation collaborates with Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, JOOTRH (Formerly Nyanza Provincial General Hospital) and Homabay District Hospital to offer quality medical care to children suffering from Burkitt Lymphoma. The support includes diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of these children. With support from Burkitt Lymphoma Funds for Africa (BLFA) and Direct Relief International (DRI), OGRA has provided and continues to provide:
- 1. Training of Hospital staff to ensure quality care: 70 Health Care Workers at JOOTRH were trained in October 2011. There is now continuous mentorship and on-job training.
- 2. Support for prompt diagnosis of the disease to ensure prompt treatment.
- 3. Uninterrupted supply of cancer drugs (cytotoxics), including some better but more expensive drugs which could not be used at the hospitals before.
- 4. More expanded supportive therapy including antiemetic (drugs to prevent vomiting), prevention of other chemotherapy side effects and prevention of opportunistic infections.
- 5. Patients receive financial support for hospital bills and other cost while on treatment.
The project started in September 2011 and has so far cared for 205 children with cancer out of whom 60% had Burkitt Lymphoma, the rest having other related childhood cancers which are also cared for by the project.
This project was conceived during a trip through Kenya in September 2009 by Miriam Sevy, from Seattle in the USA who visited the Pediatric Oncology Ward at New Nyanza Provincial General Hospital, Kisumu. Seeing the challenges they faced in treating this disease in Africa she was shaken by the suffering of the children. Back home she decided to create the Burkitt's Lymphoma Fund for Africa (BLFA) in order "to increase the long-term survival of African children diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma". In January 2011 the BLFA posted a "Request for Proposals" soliciting proposals from local organizations to request a grant for implementation of the fund's mission. One of these grants was won by the OGRA-Foundation. OGRA Foundation is working with Direct Relief International to source for buffer drugs to help bridge the gap as the program moves forward.
Further Information on Burkitt Lymphoma:
Endemic Burkitt's Lymphoma is the most common childhood cancer in equatorial Africa, where it is about ten times more common than in Europe. The incidence is higher in areas with high rates of malaria. In Kenya, the highest rates are seen in Western region (Where Nyanza province is located) and the Coastal region. The country prevalence stand at 0.61 per 100 000 children, while in Nyanza province it is 2.15 cases/100 000 children/year.
Burkitt Lymphoma is the fastest growing tumor in humans with a cell doubling time of 24 hours. This fast growth rate makes it very susceptible to chemotherapy. Endemic Burkitt's Lymphoma is mostly observed at the age from 3-18 years with the highest incidence at age 7. There appears to be a causal association with Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) and Malaria infection. At presentation it usually affects either the facial skeleton (Jaw BL) or the abdomen (Abdominal BL). More advanced disease spreads to other organs including but not limited to the central nervous system (CNS), the bone marrow, the testes and the kidney.
The tumor is curable with cure rates of almost 90% seen in Europe and the US. In Africa however due to restricted resources published one year survival rates are around 50%.