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Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Program

Nearly a quarter of the world’s children, ages 0–14, live in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is also one of the world’s most resource-limited settings.


Established in late 2017, the St. Jude Global Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Program marked the institution’s first project in the region. The goal of expanding capacity to treat and manage childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa closely aligns with the St. Jude core mission of ensuring that no child dies in the dawn of life.


Regional Initiatives

Although the Sub-Saharan Africa program is the newest regional program within St. Jude Global, growth in the region has been rapid thanks to collaborations with local partners. 


The program’s mission, vision and values align with those of St. Jude Global. The region's member institutions work with intention, guided by four values that are specific to the Sub-Saharan Africa regional program.

  • We work only where partners invite us to collaborate. The region is large enough that we will work only where there is local political will to collaborate.
  • We identify common opportunities with partners that align with each other’s goals. This is critical because we view our collaborators’ needs as paramount and as a critical guide to our efforts.
  • We commit to not fracturing health systems or existing collaboration groups. The neocolonialization of healthcare in Africa is a public health threat. In recognition of that reality, we are intentional in our approach of working inclusively with governments and state actors, whenever possible, to further care for childhood cancer at a national level.
  • We are open to collaboration with all stakeholders. This includes local care teams, nongovernmental groups and external collaborators, including partners from other high-income countries. The scope of this work is extraordinarily large. Only by working inclusively and transparently, respecting one another’s contributions, can we make progress.

Based on these values, the program has developed close partnerships with hospitals, ministries of health, foundations and World Health Organization country offices, in 10 countries. The first partnerships were formed in Zimbabwe and Zambia, but now exist in Mozambique, South Africa, Cameroon, Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda and Nigeria. Importantly, although our initial focus has been directed at childhood cancer, we are now also committed to supporting our hematology transversal unit and regional colleagues in addressing nonmalignant hematologic conditions, such as sickle cell disease, at a population level. 


Our Team


Nickhill Bhakta, MD, MPH

Director, Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Program

Director, Disease Burden and Simulation

Co-Director, ARIA Program

Associate Member, St. Jude Faculty

Full Bio


Ayo Omotola, MPH

Project Coordinator, Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Program

Full Bio


Lily Johnson

Coordinator, Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Program 

Full Bio



To learn about the Sub-Saharan Africa program, email