Project ECHO Sets Out to Expand Access to Cancer Care for Millions of People in Asia-Pacific Region

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO — Project ECHO at University of New Mexico Health, a global movement to democratize knowledge and expand access to best practice healthcare, has launched a new initiative to bring high-quality care to approximately 11 million people living with cancer in underserved areas across India, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The new initiative aims to train and mentor more than 33,000 local health care workers and is supported by an $11 million, six-year (2023 – 2028) commitment from the Merck Foundation, a private charitable organization funded by Merck, a leading U.S.-based pharmaceutical company.

“Expanding access to best practice cancer care with the ECHO Model, which centers around knowledge sharing and continuous learning, will positively impact millions of lives while meeting the unique geographic and cultural needs of each country,” said Dr. Sanjeev Arora, founder and director of Project ECHO. “I am grateful to the Merck Foundation for their support.”

“We are proud to support Project ECHO in extending access to high-quality cancer care by strengthening health systems in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Allison Goldberg, president of the Merck Foundation. “Developing local solutions to address unmet medical needs is critical as it enables sustainable impact and, most importantly, carries the potential to save and improve the lives of millions of people around the world.”

According to the World Health Organization, cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death with estimated 20 million new cases and 9.7 million deaths in 2022. The same year, WHO reported that nearly half of the world’s new cases and over half of the world’s cancer deaths occurred in South, East, and Southeastern Asia, with an estimated 9.2 million new cancer cases and more than 5.1 million cancer-related deaths in the region.

Project ECHO will work with partners, government officials, health care organizations, and community stakeholders in all four countries to expand access to best-practice cancer care, from patient navigation and treatment to survivorship and palliative care. Additionally, Project ECHO will provide ongoing technical support and evaluate the impact of implementing patient-centered care and support services in the region.

About Project ECHO

Founded in 2003, Project ECHO is a global not-for-profit organization, headquartered at The University of New Mexico Health, that empowers practitioners in rural and underserved areas to reduce disparities and improve the well-being of people in the communities where they live. ECHO’s low-cost virtual mentoring model addresses some of the world’s greatest challenges in clinical medicine and public health, with a mission to touch 1 billion lives by 2025.

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