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About Sickkids
About SickKids

July 30, 2018

SickKids celebrates Caribbean partnership to build capacity for care in paediatric cancer and blood disorders with the launch of the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative Phase 2

Every summer in Toronto, over the past 51 years, the largest festival of its kind in North America—the Peeks Caribbean Toronto Carnival, formerly Caribana—takes place throughout the city, with floats, music, celebrities and fun to celebrate Caribbean culture. The carnival, recognized as a major international event, welcomes thousands of people from all over the world and represents the deep cultural links between Toronto and the Caribbean.

As the carnival rolls into its final weeks in Toronto, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) will continue to celebrate our own links with the Caribbean through the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative (SCI), a not-for-profit collaboration between the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health and key hospitals, institutions and ministries of health in six Caribbean countries to build capacity to diagnose and care for children with cancer and blood disorders. This week, SCI is celebrating the successes that have been made over the past five years in Phase 1, and will officially launch Phase 2. Over the next three years, SCI’s Phase 2 will build on its Phase 1 progress, with a strong focus on long-term sustainability.

“SCI is a true demonstration of partnership, collaboration, innovation, sustainable relationships and outcomes,” says Dr. Victor Blanchette, Haematologist at SickKids and Co-Chair of SCI. “It is truly a collaborative effort between seven different medical and academic institutions across six Caribbean countries and SickKids in Toronto. This joint endeavor has already had an important impact on paediatric cancer and blood disorders across the six Caribbean partner countries.”

Partners from the six SCI countries—The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago—are arriving in Toronto for the SCI Annual Work Planning Meeting taking place at SickKids on August 1 and 2.  

In the Caribbean, children with cancer or blood disorders are at a particular disadvantage because of limited access to health care professionals with specialized training; limited access to specialized diagnostic services; sparse data on treatment efficacy and disease epidemiology; and a shortage of front-line health care providers. Poor clinical outcomes are exacerbated by the fact that some of these countries face unique geopolitical challenges, as well as limited access to some medicines.

SCI is working to share resources, tools and knowledge to build capacity for care and, through interprofessional education, ultimately improve the quality of care for Caribbean children living with cancer and blood disorders to try to close these gaps.

“SCI has been successful in creating a strong community of practice across the six Caribbean partner countries. As SCI moves forward to explore opportunities for sustainability, we will continue to actively study how to improve access to high quality care for all children with cancer and blood disorders in the region; track and measure change so that it can help inform planning; and generate and consolidate evidence to inform policy. These Phase 2 areas of activity will be key to building local sustainable change in the years ahead,” says Dr. Upton Allen, Division Head of Infectious Diseases at SickKids and Co-Chair of SCI.

In SCI Phase 1, six collaborative working groups were established to focus on areas of importance to the diagnosis, treatment and management of childhood cancers and serious blood diseases. These working groups included clinical care, diagnostic services, local oncology databases, nursing, sickle cell disease and scholarly research and activities, and advocacy. The below graphic shows the impact that has been made to-date through Phase 1:

Plans for Phase 2 will include:

  • Continuing to build on successes of Phase I with a focus on sustainability
  • Elevating clinical care through continued support for case consultations and building a network of physicians in the region to consult on cases
  • Leveraging patient data collected in the local oncology databases to implement quality improvement for life-saving care
  • Continued specialized training for physicians and nurses with targeted education opportunities in paediatric haematology/oncology
  • Collaborating with government and academic institutions on research to lead to the development of an evidence-based regional strategy for paediatric cancer and blood disorders

Although they may not be parading in the Caribbean carnival, SCI partners are proud to celebrate their collaborative efforts to create lasting change in the Caribbean for children with cancer and blood disorders, their families, and the individuals and health systems that support them.

Listen to Dr. Victor Blanchette’s interview with Marivel Taruc on CBC Metro Morning about the launch of SCI Phase 2.

Read the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative 2017-2018 Annual Progress Report.