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Expanding Cancer Treatment for Children in Cambodia

The Project: Pioneering Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment for Pediatric Patients


The story: Angkor’s Hospital for Children (AHC) has been in collaboration with international cancer experts since 2012, actively pioneering life-saving treatments for common pediatric cancers. Specializing in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and retinoblastoma (RB), AHC has assembled a highly skilled team of oncologists, hematologists, pharmacists, and dedicated hospital support staff. Employing a collaborative and holistic approach, the team is committed to delivering high-quality care to pediatric patients, ensuring comprehensive and effective treatment strategies.


YP Foundation is extending its collaborative partnership with Angkor’s Hospital for Children. In 2023, YP Foundation initiated a 3-year commitment with AHC, focusing on the enhancement of vital and life-saving treatments for pediatric cancer patients in Cambodia. The project is structured around three primary objectives:


1. Pioneering Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment in Cambodia


AHC's Senior Oncology Fellow, Dr. Sammly Vannak, has collaborated with international cancer mentors over the last two years to develop a groundbreaking protocol for treating Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a blood cancer not currently addressed in Cambodia. AHC’s Executive Committee approved Dr. Vannak's new AML treatment protocol in late 2022. This promising new treatment protocol was the foundation of AHC’s next cancer treatment specialization. 20 AML patients are projected to be treated annually by the year 2025.


Through the three year project, AHC will expand AML treatment and provide patients with

multidisciplinary care that encompasses several hospital departments and aligns with AHC’s

holistic treatment framework. This approach includes providing essential support such as

transportation assistance and food aid to families facing challenges in committing to a lengthy treatment schedule due to resource constraints.


2. Investing in AHC’s Oncology Program


AHC currently has a 14-bed Oncology ward that was first established in 2020 that provides a

secure environment for the administration of chemotherapy treatments while incorporating a

segregated area to minimize infection risks. As part of the three-year grant initiative, a portion will be allocated for a comprehensive physical infrastructure enhancement of the in-patient department. This includes the procurement of new hospital beds and essential medical equipment to further bolster the capabilities of the in-patient department, ensuring a state-of-the-art facility for the optimal care of pediatric cancer patients.


3. Pediatric Oncology Knowledge Sharing


AHC boasts a robust teaching system, actively engaging in the education of hundreds of

nurses, interns, and medical students who visit annually. With support from the YP Foundation grant, AHC plans to expand its educational initiatives by providing comprehensive training on the diagnosis and treatment of specific types of cancer. This includes focused educational programs on conditions such as retinoblastoma, leukemia, osteosarcoma, Burkitt lymphoma, and Hodgkin lymphoma. The grant will thus contribute to enhancing the knowledge and expertise of healthcare professionals, furthering AHC's commitment to delivering high-quality care for pediatric cancer patients.


The Results:

Year 1 - Mid-year Highlights 2023

  • 51 new cancer diagnoses

  • 10 types of cancer treated

  • 8 patients were entered into palliative care

  • 25 patients received chemotherapy


Renovation of the oncology ward was started. The scope of work will include the installation of air conditioning for optimal patient comfort, a complete overhaul of the electrical system, and the implementation of an enhanced lighting system. Additionally, the renovation will see to the creation of larger isolation rooms to meet evolving healthcare standards.


The oncology ward serves a dual purpose, accommodating patients with oncology-related

conditions and providing specialized care for those with chronic or acute respiratory, renal, or hematology conditions. This approach aligns with the hospital's commitment to stringent

infection prevention protocols, ensuring a safe and conducive environment for the diverse needs of the patients under its care. The ongoing renovations will contribute to the overall

enhancement of healthcare facilities at AHC.


Challenges:


During the initial six months of the project, two significant challenges emerged. The first

pertained to the unfortunate identification of patients who presented too late for effective

treatment. Patients with severe AML complications are not able to receive chemotherapy safely and therefore are placed in palliative care. The second challenge is the inconsistent referral network from other healthcare providers or hospitals in Cambodia. Establishing a culture of collaboration among the limited number of oncology care providers in Cambodia remains an ongoing challenge for this project. Overcoming these hurdles is crucial for ensuring timely interventions and effective care for pediatric cancer patients. The project will persist in addressing these challenges, emphasizing the importance of early detection, streamlined referrals, and enhanced cooperation within the healthcare network.


The Future:


In the third quarter of 2023, AHC is set to embark on the renovation of its 24-bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The planned renovations aim to elevate the current ICU, creating a more comfortable and efficient treatment space. Key improvements include the replacement of all bed units, contributing to an enhanced environment for patient care.


In addition, a dedicated Oncology Nurse will be welcomed to the AHC Oncology team. This

addition will help with the administration of chemotherapy medication and ensure vigilant

monitoring of patients undergoing therapy. The integration of specialized staff aligns with AHC's commitment to providing comprehensive and high-quality care to pediatric cancer patients.


Recognizing the significance and impact of this multi-year grant, YP Foundation expresses its

honor in being part of this groundbreaking program. The collective efforts are poised to

revolutionize the landscape of pediatric cancer treatment in Cambodia, reflecting a shared

commitment to improving the lives of young patients through innovative and impactful

healthcare initiatives.


Please stay tuned for updates on the outcomes and results of the program in the upcoming

years. Your continued interest and support are integral to the ongoing success and impact of

these initiatives


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