Sanjeev Arora, MD
Sanjeev Arora, MD
Credit: Sara Mota

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center’s Project ECHO has received a $10 million grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation to bring top-quality care to cancer patients living in rural and underserved areas in the U.S. and Africa.

“We are incredibly proud to be part of this historic initiative,” says Sanjeev Arora, MD, director of Project ECHO. “We are delighted to partner with the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, cancer centers, community hospitals, oncologists and other health care partners in the U.S. and Africa to improve the cancer care continuum.”

UNM’s Project ECHO® (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a signature telehealth program that advances knowledge and amplifies the capacity to provide best practices for underserved people all over the world. Arora conceived of ECHO in 2003 as means for linking primary care providers in rural areas with experts at UNM, affording them an opportunity to learn how to better manage their patients without having to send them to the hospital.

In conjunction with the Foundation’s commitment to the White House Cancer Moonshot initiative, the grant will support the mission to improve cancer care in underrepresented areas. “This partnership will support the pilot application and spread of ECHO’s tele-mentoring and collaborative model now to cancer,” says John Damonti, president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “ECHO’s potential to strengthen and heal gaps in systems of care for the most vulnerable patients and expand the idea of a cancer care team across space and health care organizations is enormous.”

Among the many goals of this collaboration are:

  • Developing tools that support the use of the ECHO model to train community health workers in cancer screening, prevention and survivorship.
  • Increasing replication of the ECHO model for cancer care.
  • Implementing long-term sustainability for cancer-focused ECHOs.

“Everyone should be able to get the health care they need, when they need it, where they live,” adds Dr. Arora. “This support from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation will help increase access to high-quality cancer care and prevention for people in rural and underserved communities around the world, and in the process, it will save and improve many lives.”