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IMA World Health Builds on Successes Against Burkitt’s Lymphoma in Tanzania

This blog post was written by Emily Esworthy, Communications Officer at IMA World Health, as part of GHC’s Member Spotlight Series. IMA’s mission is to build healthier communities by collaborating with key partners to serve vulnerable people. IMA World Health is a 2018 Global Health Council member.

Selemani Hamij is a quiet and thoughtful 4-year-old boy who was looking forward to his birthday in September. While most kids get excited about birthdays, it’s even more of a milestone for Selemani.

In January, he started complaining of pain in his mouth, and his mother saw that his gums appeared to be inflamed. She took him to a health center near their home in Kihaba, Tanzania, for treatment. There, health workers said they could treat the tooth, but they had to wait until the inflammation went down. “But the inflammation didn’t go down,” Selemani’s father, Hamis Omary Nyandikira, said.

Selemani Hamij was experiencing increasing swelling in his gums when he was admitted to Muhimbili’s pediatric cancer ward, which led to his diagnosis of Burkitt’s Lymphoma. (Photo courtesy of TLM.)

In March, when local treatment options failed to ease his pain and swelling, Selemani was referred to Muhimbili Hospital in the capital city of Dar es Salaam and was admitted to the dentistry ward. Again, treatment didn’t work; the swelling in his mouth grew, and Selemani was growing weaker by the day. That’s when health workers realized Selemani didn’t have a problem with his tooth: he had Burkitt’s Lymphoma or BL, an aggressive but treatable childhood cancer. He was transferred to Muhimbili’s pediatric oncology ward on March 22, into the care of Drs. Jane Kaijage and Trish Scanlan.

Angels of Oncology

IMA World Health has supported BL programs in Tanzania since 2001, working to advance treatment guidelines, train health workers on diagnosis and case management and provide treatment for over 4,500 children like Selemani. Today, IMA is pleased to partner with and support the work of these two visionary women who run Muhimbili’s pediatric oncology ward.

In Dr. Scanlan’s words, Dr. Kaijage is the “Founder of Pediatric Oncology in Tanzania.” She single-handedly ran Tanzania’s first pediatric cancer program at Ocean Road Cancer Institute from 2004 to 2007, and her work was instrumental in dramatically increasing the survival rates for BL patients from 10 percent to 75 percent in just two years.

Dr. Scanlan, an Irish pediatric oncologist, came to Tanzania to work with Dr. Kaijage at ORCI in 2007. In 2011 they moved operations to Muhimbili National Hospital, where they would have more space and resources, including access to specialists, surgeons, and CT and MRI machines to further advance the quality of care they could provide to the children. That year, Dr. Scanlan founded Their Lives Matter/Tumaini la Maisha or TLM, a nonprofit organization that works within and alongside Muhimbili’s pediatric oncology ward to fill gaps in both clinical and non-clinical services for patients and their families—from chemotherapy drugs and nutrient-rich smoothies to housing during treatment and educational programs for children and parents. In total, they treat about 500 new children for various cancers every year.

Quick Results

Today, Selemani is completing his treatment for BL and feeling healthy and strong. (Photo by Jennifer Bentzel/IMA World Health.)

Under the care of Dr. Kaijage, Dr. Scanlan and hospital staff, Selemani began chemotherapy immediately. As with most patients, Selemani and his father lived on the ward during the most intensive parts of treatment—for some families, that can last as long as a year. After six weeks, Selemani’s tumor was gone, and at the beginning of May he was able to go home. He returns to the hospital weekly for treatments, but today he is feeling much stronger and healthier and is expected to make a full recovery.

Looking Ahead

BL is associated with malarial infection, and thankfully its numbers are declining. “We are seeing less and less BL because the campaign against malaria is working,” Dr. Scanlan explained. And though BL progresses quickly and is fatal without treatment, increased awareness and availability of proper treatment has led to increasing rates of survival over the years.

For this reason, IMA is continuing to support treatment for children with BL, but we are also expanding our reach to other childhood cancers in concert with TLM and Muhimbili National Hospital.

Selemani’s father, Hamis Omary Nyandikira, says he is very happy with his son’s treatment and recovery after several months of scary and life-threatening symptoms. (Photo by Jennifer Bentzel/IMA World Health.)

“For over 17 years, IMA and our donors have contributed to very notable accomplishments in the treatment of Burkitt’s Lymphoma in Tanzania in various ways,” IMA President and CEO Rick Santos commented. “Engaging with TLM and Muhimbili means that we can leverage these successes to reach more children who need it most.”

TLM has ambitious goals that IMA is eager to support. Currently, TLM is working to empower the referral network in Tanzania by training regional hospitals in early diagnosis—still the number one challenge to survival rates—and by building the capacity for local treatment options so that families do not have to travel so far, or be separated for so long, during a child’s treatment.

Dr. Scanlan sums up TLM’s strategic plans by saying, “Our vision: get to every child.” IMA looks forward to partnering with TLM as we continue to work toward our own vision of health, healing and well-being for all.

Advocacy Update ~ October 22, 2018

This blog post was written by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Manager, Policy and Advocacy, and Victoria Rodriguez, Advocacy Associate at Global Health Council.

Appropriations Update

Congress is in recess until after the midterm elections in November. During the lame duck session, Congress will continue work on the remaining Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 appropriations bills, including State and Foreign Operations, currently being funded under a Continuing Resolution (CR) which expires on December 7. The way forward on the remaining bills is unclear and could be difficult, as President Trump and some Republicans intend to fight for full funding of the border wall.

Looking ahead to FY 2020

On the heels of the news last week that the federal deficit rose 17% in FY 2018, President Trump instructed all federal agencies to reduce their FY 2020 budgets by 5%. As the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and federal agencies have already begun negotiations for the upcoming budget, it is unclear what impact this directive will have, but USAID and the State Department could see another deep cut. The President’s FY 2020 Budget will be released early next year.

International lead poisoning prevention Week of action

Infographic courtesy: World Health Organization


This week, October 21 – 27, 2018, is International Lead Poisoning Awareness Week. Lead poisoning is preventable, yet the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has estimated that, based on 2016 data, lead exposure accounted for 540 000 deaths and 13.9 million years lost to disability and death due to long-term health effects, with the highest burden in developing regions. Of particular concern is the role of lead exposure in the development of intellectual disability in children. An important source of domestic lead exposure, particularly in children, is paint containing high levels of lead. These paints are still widely available and used in many countries for decorative purposes, although good substitutes without lead are available.

To spread awareness of this urgent danger, World Health Organization, UN Environment, and the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint compiled a report on activities during this week. Check out the report. Spread the word on social using the hashtag #BanLeadPaint and if you or your organization is planning an event around this week, let World Health Organization know!

Looking Toward the Future: Innovation for Global Health Impact

This blog post was written by Emily Kiser, Program Manager, Triangle Global Health Consortium. The Triangle Global Health Consortium is a non-profit member organization representing institutions and individuals from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, the international health development NGO community, the faith community, and academia.  The Consortium’s mission is to establish North Carolina as an international center for research, training, education, advocacy and business dedicated to improving the health of the world’s communities. They are a 2018 Global Health Council member.

Image courtesy: Triangle Global Health Consortium

On September 27, more than 300 global health professionals and students gathered in Raleigh, North Carolina to explore innovation for global health impact at the 2018 Triangle Global Health Annual Conference, hosted by the Triangle Global Health Consortium (TGHC).  Each year, the Triangle Global Health Annual Conference highlights the incredible global health work taking place in North Carolina and its far-reaching impacts.

The day featured dynamic keynote addresses from Dr. Timothy Mastro, Chief Science Officer at FHI 360, and Dr. Ticora V. Jones, Director for the Center for Development Research and Division Chief for the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) within the US Global Development Lab at USAID.

Plenary panel discussions delved into embedding social innovation to drive gender equality and accelerating and scaling global health innovation. As TGHC’s Executive Director, Jacob Traverse, noted, “When you’re dealing with global health issues, particularly in developing regions, often the challenge isn’t so much [medical technology], but it’s how you integrate these layers of the community and deal with cultural dynamics that may go back generations. There’s always inspiration in these discussions.”  

Additional panel and workshop sessions throughout the day spanned a wide range of innovation topics including digital health, medical transport via drones, innovations in M&E, innovative funding models, and more. Participants had the opportunity to address hypothetical outbreak scenarios, explore and create new cervical screening methods, engage in ideation, and – most importantly – collaborate and connect with other participants across organizations and sectors.

As one 2018 conference participant shared, “[TGHC] brings together so many of the great organizations, people and knowledge that exist here in the Triangle, and taps into regional resources that extend beyond our immediate network. It is a gem in our global health community here and really brings to life a thriving, vibrant industry in North Carolina.”

Global Health Roundup~10/10/2018
Lookout for GHC members at the Fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR 2018)! 

Between October 8 and 12, several GHC members, including Frontline Health Workers CoalitionManagement Sciences for HealthIntraHealth InternationalIMA World HealthMedtronic Foundation, and John Snow Inc., will host booths and side events at the largest research conference in Liverpool, United Kingdom. Our members are getting ready to discuss health systems in fragile settings, strengthening the capacity of community health systems, engaging health workers, peer-to-peer learning to achieve UHC, and expanding access into the hardest-to-reach communities. This year, the HSR 2018 Conference is centered around innovative ways of financing health, delivering services, and engaging the health workforce. For more information about the Symposium and related side events, visit our events calendar.

Innovations for Global Health Impact: The 2018 Triangle Global Health Consortium Conference 
On September 27, GHC joined other actors from nonprofit, academia, and the private sector for the annual Triangle Global Health Consortium Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. This year’s theme – Innovations for Global Health Impact – covered a wide range of topics including digital health, epidemic preparedness, and transition of developing countries from donor health assistance. The event attracted 300 professionals and students who participated in panel discussions, poster presentations and an exhibition by event sponsors. Read more and view highlights from the event gallery.

WHO’s First Investment Case can Save up to 30 Million Lives
On September 19, the World Health Organization (WHO) laid out the potentially broad impact of global health and development through their first investment case. According to WHO, if an investment of $14.1 billion from 2019 to 2023 is made, up to 30 million lives could be saved. This could add up to 100 million years of healthy living to the world’s population and add up to 4 percent of economic growth in low and middle-income countries by 2023. Such an investment would also help achieve the “triple billion” targets of WHO’s General Programme of Work: 1 billion more people benefiting from universal health coverage; 1 billion more people better protected from health emergencies; and 1 billion more people enjoying better health and wellbeing. View more details.


1.) August 14Plagues and the Paradox of Progress, a new book authored by Thomas J. Bollyky, Director of the Global Health Program and Senior Fellow for Global Health, Economics, and Development at the Council on Foreign Relations, explores the intersection between epidemics and human development and the possible unintended consequences of a rising new trend..
2.) September 28: PATH and Johnson & Johnson announced their new joint partnership to strengthen pediatric TB response strategies in Vietnam. The Breathe for Life project has greatly expanded the number of young kids diagnosed with TB and aims to train public and private health care workers to better diagnose, treat, care, and prevent TB in children younger than five.
3.) September 28: WHO stepped up its goals to end childhood cancer by kicking off a global initiative during UNGA week, which will help raise awareness at national and global levels as well as increase capacity to deliver high-quality care for pediatric cancer patients.
4.) October 2: PathFinder International released a new campaign,#ByHerSide, which will ensure universal sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is part of the renewed commitment to primary health care and the movement towards health for all leading up to the UN High-Level Meeting on UHC in 2019. Read the Devex op-ed from PathFinder’s President and CEO Lois Quam.
5.) October 5: Ebola Update: WHO enhanced the risk of the Ebola virus transmission in national and regional areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo to “very high” but reaffirmed that the chances of the disease spreading globally remain low. View the latest update.