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Why a BMT Unit for Sri Lanka?

For Sri Lanka, a country recovering from a huge setback due to a three decade war, a BMT Unit is a ‘long overdue’, as with many other facilities and infrastructure. Cancer is now the third most common cause of death in Sri Lanka. Haematological malignancies are some of the commonest malignancies of children and young adults resulting in a devastating loss of life for families. Baby Levmitha

Thalassemia (a form of cancer) is the most common life-threatening non-communicable disease in South East Asia region. BMT is a cost effective treatment for Thalassemia with a 90% success rate, changing the lives of children born with the disease. To receive treatment, patients currently need to travel to Singapore and India for stem cell transplants, and the cost (often exceeding $40,000) puts that treatment well out of reach of most citizens. It is anticipated that establishment of a BMT Unit in Sri Lanka will reduce these costs to a fraction of the current overseas costs.

It will provide due care for all Sri Lankans, including for low income patients who cannot afford overseas treatment or raise funds in time for such options. In addition, those patients who currently travel to Singapore or India will be able to access the procedure for a lesser cost and much closer to their family support structures.

There is an increased awareness amongst the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Worldwide network for Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation (WBMT) that HSCT activity in developing countries has increased significantly in the last ten years. It is considered that Sri Lanka possesses the required basic ingredients for establishment of a BMT Unit, based on economic, societal and cost-benefit grounds. Sri Lanka, as an emerging middle economy, has a highly educated medical workforce where specialist physicians acquire skills and experience from developed countries as a part of their training. There is also an efficient, organized and centralized blood transfusion service with new facilities currently being built within the premises of the National Cancer Institute.