Effective Pediatric Cancer Treatment Is Possible in the Midst of a Refugee Crisis

Article ID: 690168

Released: 26-Feb-2018 5:05 PM EST

Source Newsroom: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

  • Credit: Peter Barta / St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

    “Our experience demonstrates that effective treatment of pediatric cancer is possible even in crisis situations,” said Sima Jeha, M.D., a member of the St. Jude Departments of Oncology and Global Pediatric Medicine. “As the war in Syria continued, we were able to treat more, not fewer refugees. We showed that children can be saved who otherwise would have died because they happened to have cancer at a time when their family was displaced by war.

Newswise — funds were available. As the crisis continued, eligibility changed and was limited to patients whose cancer was considered curable. In an effort to treat more patients, coverage ended for bone marrow transplantation, which is an expensive treatment.

  • Continue to mobilize regional and international advocates to develop and support coordinated approaches for treatment of displaced children with cancer.

“The global humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis has focused mostly on meeting basic needs,” Jeha said. “Funding for non-communicable diseases like cancer has been largely nonexistent. Our experience demonstrates what is possible.”

The other authors are Haifaa Khalifeh, Lama Zahreddine, Layal Bayram, Zeina Merabi, Miguel Abboud, Samar Muwakkit, Nidale Tarek and Hassan El Solh, all of the American University of Beirut Medical Center; and Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, M.D., chair of the St. Jude Department of Global Pediatric Medicine.

The study was funded by the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon and ALSAC.

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