Sandals supports fight against paediatric cancer and blood disorders

Foundation donates CAD$200,000 to SickKids-Caribbean Initiative

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

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SANDALS Foundation has recommitted to its partnership with the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) by contributing CAD$200,000 to the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative (SCI).

The funds will help in renovating a telemedicine facility at Victoria Hospital in St Lucia, which will be used for real time interactive conferences and medical consultation of patient files.

Telemedicine rooms are already in operation in the Bahamas and Barbados under the SCI initiative.

Over the next six months, three more such facilities will open in Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia.

According to Sandals Foundation, the aim is for medical professionals in the Caribbean to connect with SickKids oncologists and haematologists in Canada to collaborate on treatment options.

The SickKids-Caribbean Initiative -- of which the president of the Sandals Foundation Adam Stewart was named Ambassador alongside Paul Lee-Chin -- is a key focus for the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health. The objective is to improve outcomes for children affected by cancers and serious blood disorders in the Caribbean.

"We are pleased to continue supporting this very important initiative, which will save the lives of many children living in the Caribbean," Stewart said. "The Sandals Foundation believes in partnerships that will encourage and support community development in our Caribbean region (and) health care is a very important aspect of this. SickKids is dedicated to building capacity in the region's health care systems to increase the survival rates of children in the Caribbean diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders. We are proud to be there alongside them as they work tirelessly to achieve this goal."

The SCI is also helping to build sustainable health care capacity by training health professionals; providing consultation and diagnostic expertise; and developing and expanding access to treatment and supportive care. Over the next four years, the Initiative will see to the construction of telemedicine facilities; the development of a nursing training curriculum and the establishment of patient management tracking tools among other goals.

Within the past year, the SCI has seen to the training of Dr Michelle Reece-Mills from the University Hospital of the West Indies; the provision of a two-year fellowship at SickKids for Dr Sharon McLean of the Bustamante Hospital for Children in the Division of Haematology/Oncology; observational training in flow cytometry and cytogenetics for seven laboratory staff from the Caribbean; the opening of two telemedicine facilities in The Bahamas and Barbados; and formal monthly patient case consultations via telemedicine rounds.

In 2013, SickKids announced its commitment to raising CAD$8 million over five years in support of the Initiative, which currently operates in Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, The Bahamas and Jamaica. To date, CAD$6.8 million has been raised towards that goal from donors in the Caribbean and Canada.

"The SickKids-Caribbean Initiative is a great example of collaboration on so many levels and showcases donors like Sandals Foundation's commitment to children's' health," said President and CEO of SickKids Foundation Ted Garrard. "We are so thankful of such generous contributions and we are pleased to say that this programme will immediately improve the outlook and outcome for children living in all of the countries."

The Sandals Foundation, upon the launch of the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative in February 2013, committed CAD$50,000 to the endeavour.

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