UIC partners in health care for patients in Nepal

Damiano Rondelli

Damiano Rondelli, chief of hematology-oncology and director of blood and marrow transplant, at Nepal’s first international conference on blood cancers.

UIC and the Binaytara Foundation have partnered to develop Nepal’s first blood and marrow transplant unit and organize the country’s first international conference on blood cancers.

Stem cell transplantation, a standard procedure for the treatment of many blood cancers in developed countries, is not yet offered in Nepal. The country also lacks medical specialty training in hematology or oncology.

In an effort to promote evidence-based medicine in South Asia, a conference was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sept. 13 and 14 with than 250 participants from Nepal, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and China.

UI Health and the UIC Center for Global Health are hosting four clinicians from Kathmandu Civil Service Hospital. While visiting Chicago, the Nepalese physicians will observe all aspects of blood and marrow transplantation, including clinical care, blood banking, stem cell collection and administrative operations.

“Many cancer patients in Nepal are in need of stem cell transplants, but they currently do not have this option,” said Damiano Rondelli, chief of hematology-oncology and director of blood and marrow transplant at UI Hospital.

“Our efforts and presence in Nepal are aimed at developing a partnership to address the need for training medical specialists that will translate into better care for a larger number of people in a wonderful and still developing country.”

The Binaytara Foundation and UIC will assist physicians from the Kathmandu hospital in opening the first blood and marrow transplant unit in Nepal, which will serve thousands of patients from Nepal and neighboring India.

The unit is expected to begin performing autologous stem cell transplants in the next year, followed by allogeneic transplants from compatible donors.

UIC physicians will support the Nepalese physicians through training, guidelines, telemedicine support and occasional visits to the hospital in Kathmandu, said Rondelli.

The foundation and UIC also partnered to provide a year-long blood cancer telemedicine course to 100 clinicians in developing countries.

The Binaytara Foundation was founded by Binay Shah, a former hematology/oncology fellow at UIC who now practices in Idaho.