The St. Jude Global Eastern Mediterranean Regional Program aims to increase access to quality care for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases.
To achieve this goal, the program supports the creation of partnerships and cooperative regional networks of healthcare providers to build capacity, strengthen educational and research programs and reinforce advocacy and resource mobilization in the region.
The program builds on work that began more than two decades ago, using the former twinning model. At that time, the work focused on four partner sites in three countries: Lebanon (Beirut), Jordan (Amman) and Morocco (Casablanca and Rabat). In the ensuing years, St. Jude has collaborated with more than 80 institutions in 28 countries across the region, helping develop national programs, unified standard of care protocols and cancer networks.
In recent years, St. Jude Global has adopted a tiered model to expand its reach in the region, employing strategic planning of collaborative workshops and development of structured working groups at the regional, country and hospital levels. The Eastern Mediterranean Regional Program offers a platform for collaboration with key stakeholders, such as local leaders, government and hospital administrators and international organizations.
St. Jude has developed extensive collaborative partnerships in the Eastern Mediterranean region. These partnerships have transitioned from the activities and programs first developed under St. Jude’s International Outreach Program to current engagement with more than 80 centers. Working in conjunction with these partners, St. Jude Global has developed fellowship and training programs to increase the number of well-qualified healthcare professionals and experts in the region, thus improving access to care for many children with cancer.
Other initiatives have focused on:
St. Jude Global collaborations are currently focused on developing and implementing programs, projects and initiatives in alignment with the pillars of education, capacity building and research.
The Pediatric Oncology East and Mediterranean Group (POEM) launched in 2013. POEM’s mission is to continually improve pediatric oncology care, research, training and advocacy in the region through integrated teamwork. The group’s network of physicians, scientists and healthcare professionals is spread across more than 80 childhood cancer centers in the Middle East, northern Africa and southern Asia.
While the regional approach is crucial to building a collaborative global network, national programs are key to improving health care systems in the region’s diverse countries. To that end, the Eastern Mediterranean program is bringing together key stakeholders to help build national programs that advocate to improve access to quality care for all children with cancer in each country. This effort has included successful engagements in Morocco, Pakistan and Palestine.
Relationships with partner institutions in Lebanon and Jordan set the foundation for a strong network to ensure continuity of care for children with cancer who are displaced. The war in Syria resulted in a large refugee and displacement crisis in the region. Lebanon took in the highest number of refugees per capita, followed by Jordan. A crisis fund has ensured uninterrupted cancer care for displaced children with cancer. In addition, St. Jude Global has provided guidance and oversight in budgeting, prioritization and allocation of resources to save the maximum number of lives with available funds and local capacity. In parallel with the assistance for displaced children in Lebanon and Jordan, the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Program initiated a long-term plan in 2013 to support capacity building in Syria, aimed at preparing for the return of displaced children. The resultant program has created a strong network for care of childhood cancer in Syria, which has played a vital role in assisting children with cancer displaced by the earthquake in February 2023.