Blood & Marrow Transplantation (BMT) is rarely available in many low-middle-income countries (LMIC). In 2012, Civil Service Hospital, a government hospital in Kathmandu (Nepal) partnered with the University of Illinois at Chicago (USA) to consult on the establishment of BMT in their hospital, train staff and promote educational activities. The implementation of BMT occurred in 3 phases over 4 years and included: regular on-site visits, training of personnel in Chicago, continuous remote communication, co-organization of educational events in Kathmandu. The Nepalese government funded the construction of a state-of-the art BMT unit and stem cell lab inside Civil Hospital. Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) was started in 2016 and allogeneic HSCT from matched related (MRD) or haploidentical (Haplo) donors in 2017. Transplant cost was $5,200 for autologous, $10,000 for MRD and $13,300 for Haplo HSCT. The major socio-economic determinants reported by Nepalese BMT providers were: cost of transplant, loss revenue of the patient or caregiver and cost of transportation. All patients (n=66) received peripheral blood stem cell grafts and all allogeneic HSCT received post-transplant cyclophosphamide (PTCy) as graft versus host disease (GVHD) prophylaxis. In autologous HSCT (n=30), with a median follow-up of 1029 days (range:130-1653) 87% were alive, and transplant-related mortality (TRM) was 10%. In allogeneic HSCT (n=36), all patients engrafted and with a median follow-up of 204 days (range: 12-1131) 75% of them were alive (MRD: 71%, Haplo: 83%), with a TRM of 19%. Only 3 of 36 patients developed acute GVHD ≥ grade 2. Median overall survival (OS) in autologous HSCT was 1610 days, whereas it was not reached in allogeneic HSCT. The long-lasting partnership of UIC helped building capacity and allowed Civil Service Hospital team to establish a BMT program in Nepal that has high quality standards at affordable cost for the majority of the patients.
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