International Outreach Initiative: Botswana

Botswana-UPENN Partnership and UPENN Department of Radiation Oncology initiatives to enhance and develop Oncology Care in Botswana

Botswana viewOver 50% of the new cancer cases in the world arise in low and middle-income countries such as Botswana, and this is expected to rise to 70% by 2030.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, the high prevalence of HIV further complicated the situation. For example, over 80% of the cervical cancer patients in Botswana are HIV-positive. The treatment of these patients is too often unguided.   Other major issues include the lack of human resources, high-level training, and technology.

  • To address these grave needs, the Botswana-UPENN Partnership (BUP) and Department of Radiation Oncology at University of Pennsylvania (UPENN) Perelman School of Medicine are working together with the Republic of Botswana Ministry of Health (MOH) and University of Botswana (UB) to address needs in cancer care in Botswana.
  • BUP is a collaborative clinical and research program in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, where UPENN faculty members have been providing HIV care for patients in Botswana for over a decade. To learn more about BUP, click here.
  • UPENN Radiation Oncology is accepting fellowship applications (at the Faculty Instructor level) to join in this effort. To find out more about this position, click here.

With guidance from the MOH and UB following initiatives are underway:

Clinical Care

UPENN Radiation Oncology faculty will be based in Botswana to help standardize treatments and improve clinical care. They will also be working on developing a cancer follow-up program and integrating the oncology clinic with the cervical cancer-screening program at BUP to limit treatment delays. 

Clinical Didactic Visits

UPENN Radiation Oncology faculty with oncology site specific expertise will be visiting to provide didactic tutorials in needed focus areas especially pertinent to Botswana (e.g. cervical cancer, brachytherapy, palliative care, lymphoma, head and neck cancer, medical physics, etc.)

Clinical Education

UPENN faculty, residents, and fellows will work with the Botswana MOH and UB to help develop oncology training curriculum for students.  In addition, senior UPENN Radiation Oncology residents will rotate at the Radiation Oncology Clinic in Gaborone to help with clinical work, help teach UB students and residents, while also expanding their own clinical experience. Starting  8/1/2014, we will be accepting applications for 1-2 month clinical rotations in Botswana.

Nursing Education

UPENN Radiation Oncology nursing staff will facilitate oncology nursing training and help develop nursing education modules with special relevance to oncology in Botswana.

Patient Education

UPENN faculty, residents, fellows, and nursing staff will develop patient education modules focusing on importance of screening, treatment and toxicities.

Clinical Research

UPENN will be collaborating with UB and BUP on research into virally-mediated cancers, with a special focus on cervical cancer natural history and treatment outcomes in HIV-positive patients..

Low Cost Technologies

Collaborations are sought throughout the UPENN community (Schools of Engineering, Education, Business, Nursing, or Epidemiology) to help develop much needed low cost resources, tools and technologies for improved cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment..

For more information, please contact:
Surbhi Grover, MD, MPH