A large region with a strong network, the Central and South America region incorporates multiple sites and projects.
The first international outreach program ever initiated by St. Jude occurred in 1993, at Benjamin Bloom Hospital in El Salvador. Later, programs were developed in Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. These programs have national reach and aim to provide access to care to most children with cancer in the region.
Through the years, the collaborative nature of the Central American programs led to the creation of the Asociación de Hemato-Oncología Pediátrica de Centro América (AHOPCA). This regional network has adopted the structure and functions of a consortium. Participants include programs in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. AHOPCA has standardized treatments, with thousands of children treated through its guidelines and research protocols.
AHOPCA also provides education and training. The Unidad Nacional de Oncología Pediátrica in Guatemala City offers a pediatric oncology fellowship program. Twenty-one pediatric oncologists have graduated from this program. They provide specialized care to children with cancer in the region.
During the past two years, St. Jude Global has developed a series of strategy workshops. These workshops strengthen regional health systems. They also advance the development of high-quality national pediatric oncology programs. Participants include representatives of the Ministries of Health of all the countries in the region and the Pan-American Health Organization.
In South America, St. Jude Global has long-standing capacity-building, education and research activities in Ecuador, Chile and Brazil. In Chile, St. Jude supported a National Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant program for nearly 20 years. This program is one of only two ASH-designated training centers for pediatric bone marrow transplantation in Latin America.
St. Jude Global plans to develop national initiatives in Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru. Strategic planning meetings and focused workshops have been conducted, and plans will be consolidated during the next year.
In addition to AHOPCA, St. Jude Global helped develop two other clinical research consortia in the region:
- The Consorcio Latinoamericano de Enfermedades Hemato-oncológicas Pediátricas (CLEHOP) began because of the success of AHOPCA’s program for the treatment of children with Hodgkin lymphoma. Those excellent results triggered interest to extend this work to other parts of Latin America. CLEHOP integrates groups from Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil to expand beyond the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma and become a true Latin American cooperative group. In addition to a protocol for Hodgkin lymphoma, the group is developing a new clinical trial for acute promyelocytic leukemia.
- Grupo de America Latina de Oncología Pediátrica (GALOP) originally started when a few institutions in South America teamed up with the Children’s Oncology Group to run common protocols. GALOP will now be part of the St Jude Global Alliance. This will allow more centers to take part in the group and reach more children with cancer in the region.