Commitments- Access and Disparities

BIO Ventures for Global Health: African Access Initiative

Africa is facing a cancer crisis that is attributable largely to healthcare systems inadequacies. In response, BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) launched the African Access Initiative (AAI). Driven by Africa, for Africa, AAI engages pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, African governments and hospitals, and leading cancer centers to address the lack of access to quality clinical care that underlies the crisis. Aligning with the self-defined healthcare needs of participating African countries and hospitals, AAI announces it is: (1) expanding access to cancer medicines and technologies by establishing affordable business and pricing agreements between companies and African governments, (2) strengthening healthcare infrastructure by coordinating the placement of essential diagnostic equipment, (3) building clinical oncology capacity through fellowships and workshops, and (4) fast-tracking patient access to innovative cancer therapies through clinical trials. BVGH has recently completed needs assessments of 24 hospitals in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, and Rwanda. With the results of the assessments in place, BVGH is engaging partners to address the identified needs through the following custom projects: • Three-month clinical trial and diagnostic laboratory training programs in Kenya and Rwanda • Pilot drug access program led by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health • Diagnostic pathology workshop in Nigeria that will provide detailed training on breast cancer subtype identification. Partners include: African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC), International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA)/Access Accelerated, Ministries of Health of Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, and Rwanda, Pfizer, Inc., and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation*

In October 2016, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation joined the White House Cancer Moonshot initiative with a commitment of $25 million in new funding to address health care disparities in cancer so that Moonshot and other cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment breakthroughs leave no patient out and no patient behind.  By November 2017, just over a year later, the Foundation met its commitment. Under the Moonshot commitment, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is supporting a diverse group of 12 primary grantee organizations to develop and test innovative models of care with local partners in over 25 states across the country. In line with its overall approach to catalyzing enduring change, the Foundation further commits to supporting the sustainability and spread of the capacity and best practices created through the grants. Each grantee will receive technical assistance for policy advancement and advocacy from the Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and for sustainability and scaling planning and execution from FSG, a non-profit consulting firm for social change. In addition, since meeting its Moonshot commitment, the Foundation has made 9 more cancer disparities focused grants totally $8.5 million in funding. The grantees’ projects address several cancers and aim to strengthen delivery of cancer services along the continuum of care – from prevention to screening to diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and palliative care. These programs focus on vulnerable and medically underserved populations so that they do not fall through the cracks.  Already these multiyear projects are creating new cancer care delivery capacity, improving quality and access to care, and better addressing barriers outside the clinic that impact patient engagement in care such as the social determinants of health and stigma.

ECHO Institute Health Sciences Center University of New Mexico: Project ECHO*

In 2019, Project ECHO pledges to expand the ECHO model, using teleconferencing tools to connect cancer experts with community providers to share expertise in cancer care, prevention, survivorship and palliative care to 10 cancer centers.  Advances in cancer care are not reaching Americans equally. Just three decades ago, breast cancer rates were equal; now African American women are dying of breast cancer at significantly higher rates.  Appalachian counties have some of the nation’s highest rates of lung and colorectal cancer. For those living on tight budgets, traveling long distances for expensive treatment means choosing between needed care and basic life necessities. Project ECHO moves knowledge instead of patients. This means improved quality and efficiency of care, increased capacity to treat more patients, improved provider retention, and patients receiving treatment in their own communities. Looking ahead to 2025, ECHO aims to improve the lives of 3 million patients globally by launching approximately 50 ECHO programs focused on active oncology care. Project ECHO for Cancer is made possible by the support and partnership with the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

National Minority Quality Forum:  Cancer Index Atlas*

The National Minority Quality Forum and Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC (SHC) are releasing the new Cancer Index Atlas, co-developed by the Diverse Cancer Community Working Group, a partnership inspired by the Cancer Moonshot. The real challenge lies not in debating whether disparities exist, but in the identification of the patients at most risk and developing and implementing local strategies to reduce and eliminate them. The Cancer Index Atlas is an efficient tool which provides researchers, advocates, and educators the ability to inform hypotheses for community research, target screening programs, and educate congressional leaders and policymakers on the cancer constituents that they serve. The Cancer Index Atlas, a user- friendly access portal, provides 2016 patient-level data via state-of-the-art, geo-mapping technology with the following searchable data fields- geographical (nation, state, zip code, legislative district), prevalence, incidence and demographical (age, gender, race, ethnicity, total cost). Data is provided for the following six cancers: breast, colorectal, prostate, lung, endometrial and blood cancers.  Making these data and other requested SHC data available should ignite collaboration to address cancer health equity with sustainability, one community at a time.

Northern New England Clinical & Translational Research Network: Challenges of Cancer in Rural Northern New England

University of Vermont Cancer Center, Maine Medical Center Research Institute, and Dartmouth Norris Cotton Cancer Center, commit to address the unique cancer challenges in rural northern New England. The goal of this new partnership is to align research and advanced clinical capabilities of the academic and clinical cancer centers with community-based primary care practices to rectify disparities that result from restricted healthcare access in their rural communities.  Cancer is the leading cause of death in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine as well as in many states and globally.  New England has the largest population of residents over 65 years of age and because the population is largely rural, access to healthcare is more difficult, with more limited options for screening, cancer diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care and survivorship. Through this new network, the partners will develop and implement strategies to enable community-based practices to provide cancer prevention and screening programs, targeted therapy, survivorship programs, and participation in clinical trials. An initial meeting will be hosted on September 21st to explore collaborative options across these three states, each with 5-year state cancer plans in place. Learnings and best practices from this effort will be made public to support others interested in attacking cancer in rural settings. Funding for this initiative includes a $20M five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Vermonters Taking Action Against Cancer.