A person’s chance of defeating a deadly disease depends far too much on where in the world they live. Cancer is deadlier in sub-Saharan Africa, with its underresourced health systems, than it is in other regions of the world. Since 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated cancer care while introducing a new threat to Africa’s people and health systems.  

On March 23, Rutgers Giving Day, we came together as a community to help confront the rising burden of cancer and to continue assisting with the COVID-19 pandemic response in sub-Saharan Africa. During the 24-hour event, we raised $25,446 for the Botswana-Rutgers Partnership for Health, a multiyear collaboration with the southern African nation of Botswana. 


Results broken down 

The $25,446 raised includes $17,446 in donations from 163 individuals and $8,000 in challenge grants: 

$5,000 – Newcomers Leaderboard (third place for highest unique donor count among funds participating in Rutgers Giving Day for the first time) 

$1,000 – Faculty and Staff Challenge (fund within Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences supported by the most faculty and staff) 

$750 – Group Ambassador Challenge (second place among funds whose ambassadors collectively brought in the most donors) 

$500 – RU Global? Challenge (one of two funds with the most international donors between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.) 

$500 – Kick-Off Challenge (among the first five funds to receive a gift after midnight at the start of Rutgers Giving Day) 

$250 – First-time Donor Challenge (special matching gift challenge for first-time Rutgers donors who made gifts of $50 or more to our fund) 


Among the $17,446 in donations were $8,000 in matching gifts from members of the Rutgers Global Health Institute Impact Council. 


Botswana-Rutgers Partnership for Health 

Every gift will go toward our joint work with the Government of Botswana to strengthen health systems, provide workforce development training, improve health information technology, and support pandemic preparedness and response. In cancer care and prevention, this work includes digital pathology initiatives, which will help speed up diagnoses; improving timely access to care for women with advanced-stage breast cancer; and applying the findings of the partnership’s recently completed national needs assessment. For COVID-19, we are collaborating on an ongoing distance learning initiative that has supported public health and clinical care since the start of the pandemic. 

The Botswana-Rutgers Partnership for Health is working to save lives, prevent disease, and improve health and health equity both within and beyond Botswana. The comprehensive cancer care and prevention program we are building together with the Government of Botswana can serve as a model for other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Our joint national webinar series, initiated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is laying the groundwork for virtual professional development related to other diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Donor support is needed to sustain this work and move it forward, creating a healthier world for everyone. 


Ambassador impact 

Twelve volunteer ambassadors reached out to friends, family, and colleagues in their own personal and professional networks to raise awareness and encourage others to donate to the Botswana-Rutgers Partnership for Health Fund. They are: Mariam Basta, Jeff Cheng, Lara Fougnies, Jim Hoyt, Lara De Meo Hoyt, Arpita Jindani, Richard Marlink, Kwame McCain, Lori Riley, Mansi Shah, Kim Swann, and Olivia Varga. 

In Case You Missed It

You can still support the Botswana-Rutgers Partnership for Health’s efforts to confront the rising burden of cancer and to continue assisting with the COVID-19 pandemic response in sub-Saharan Africa.