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Welcome to the blog of The Aslan Project! Through these reflections, we aim to raise awareness about our work building comprehensive and locally-sustainable pediatric cancer programs in Ethiopia and other low- and middle-income countries and, perhaps more importantly, about the experiences of children with cancer and their families who seek treatment at our programs.

Launched in August 2016, The Aslan Project’s pediatric oncology program at Jimma University Medical Center (JUMC) in southwestern Ethiopia has progressed rapidly. From its opening through December 2017, the program treated 137 children with cancer, administered more than 1000 doses of chemotherapy, with zero accidents or administration errors, and provided education and training to more than 30 JUMC health professionals to equip them to diagnose, treat, and care for children with cancer. Education and training remains the cornerstone of Aslan’s work at JUMC; in 2017 alone, Aslan sent members of our all-volunteer global medical faculty from 13 institutions in six different countries to Jimma to evaluate patients, advise staff, and train doctors in our pediatric hematology/oncology (PHO) fellowship program.

While most childhood cancers are curable, the survival rate for children with cancer in low-resource settings can be as low as 10 percent.

Through our programs in Ethiopia and elsewhere, The Aslan Project seeks to demonstrate that pediatric and adolescent cancers can be treated and cured in low-resource settings just as they are in more prosperous ones. By investing in capacity building training, comprehensive family support systems, and other essential infrastructures, we are changing the story of childhood cancer in Ethiopia and we want you to be a part of it.

When any member of the Aslan Project team or visiting faculty mentions our Clinical Director, Dr. Miguel Bonilla, words like “extraordinary,” “inspiring,” and “optimistic” invariably begin the conversation. During the eight months of Dr. Bonilla’s tenure as full-time director of our pediatric cancer program at Jimma University Medical Center (JUMC) in southwestern Ethiopia, he not only has introduced superb clinical and academic skills to the hospital and our fellowship training program in pediatric hematology/oncology – each and every day, he offers a warm friendship to our partners in Jimma and brings hope to the families and children with cancer in treatment at JUMC.

Each week in Addis Ababa, the Tesfa Addis Parents Childhood Cancer Organization (TAPCCO) provides psychosocial and other supportive services to the more than 100 children in treatment at the pediatric cancer unit and outpatient center of Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital (TASH) and their families. TAPCCO’s interventions for families at TASH, made possible with funding primarily from The Aslan Project, are truly life-saving; they enable parents like Kamil Said, the mother of two brothers in treatment at TASH, to “concentrate [only] on taking care of her children and helping them get better.”