Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine have been committed to improving children’s health in Botswana for a decade through the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI). The partnership began with HIV/AIDS outreach during a time when Botswana had one of the highest prevalences of HIV in the world. Over the last 10 years, tremendous strides have been made in not only treating children with HIV/AIDS, but also preventing new infections.
About 5 years ago, Texas Children’s took an unprecedented step by sending a pediatric hematologist-oncologist to Botswana and continues to maintain that presence today. In December, leaders from Texas Children’s Hospital and Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers traveled to Botswana to assess the impact of this novel partnership as well as determine how these efforts could be expanded. Dr. David Poplack, head of the Section of Hematology-Oncology in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and Director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers made his first visit to Botswana. Dr. Poplack feels that the knowledge and expertise in treating childhood cancer and blood diseases should not be contained just within the walls of Texas Children’s.
The partnership Texas Children’s has established in Botswana is evidence that quality care of children with complex medical conditions can be accomplished in resource-limited settings.
Joining Dr. Poplack on the visit to Princess Marina Hospital were Kristi Wilson-Lewis, Director of Administration & Planning at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers and Michael Walsh, Director of Texas Children’s Global Health Initiative. Dr. Poplack, Ms. Wilson-Lewis and Mr. Walsh were able to meet with the leadership of Princess Marina, tour the Paediatric Medical Ward, visit with nurses and meet patients. Dr. Poplack also donated a new signed copy of the textbook that he edits, Principles and Practices of Pediatric Oncology, to the Department of Paediatrics library at Princess Marina.
Their visit was well-received as a clear sign of the importance Texas Children’s Hospital places on international partnerships. Texas Children’s investment into pediatric health care in Botswana is reaping tremendous rewards with the future looking very bright.