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Health Systems

A health systems approach is necessary to sustain the development and implementation of pediatric hematology and oncology programs across all St. Jude Global regions.


The Global Health Systems Unit aims to support integrating childhood cancer care into national, regional and global priorities to improve health outcomes for children with cancer.


Efforts to strengthen health systems must expand beyond improvements in clinical services to address needs at the policy and system levels. This expansion means not only working with clinicians but also building a diverse stakeholder base with policymakers, government leaders, civil society and global health leaders and researchers.


Program Initiatives

The Health Systems team works to integrate childhood cancer care into national, regional and global priorities through activities that:

  • Support strengthening of health systems across national and regional cancer programs. The Health Systems Unit and global collaborators apply health systems science to effectively develop, implement and evaluate cancer control initiatives on a national and multinational level. Successful initiatives have been launched in Myanmar and the Philippines, with emerging regional collaborations in the Euro and Central and South America regions. 
  • Systematically collate, analyze and strengthen national policies pertinent to childhood cancer. The Health Systems Unit has established the Policy Monitor, a comprehensive core bank of more than 1,000 national policies and strategic documents regarding cancer control, noncommunicable diseases and health. Collated policies span every region of the world and all country-income levels. An extended core bank features monitoring and evaluation reports and related documents highlighting implementation plans and outcomes. There have been in-depth comparisons of more than 250 national policies in more than seven languages, providing a platform for global, regional and national analyses to inform action. In addition to analyses of inclusion in national policies and implementation plans, analytic frameworks have been applied to address key global priorities beyond childhood cancer, such as equity and palliative care integration.
  • Develop and implement tools to assess and strengthen health systems and comprehensive childhood cancer control. The Health Systems Unit is developing assessment and opportunity-mapping tools that foster collaboration across institutions, sectors, national programs and regions to drive evidence-based decision-making. Initial tools designed by the unit facilitate stakeholder mapping and national strategic planning, highlighting opportunities to integrate the needs of children with cancer into health systems while achieving sustainable health-system-wide improvements.
  • Liaise and collaborate with global and regional stakeholders to embed childhood cancer in global and regional agendas. With stakeholders worldwide, the Health Systems Unit is applying health system science and research to integrate childhood cancer needs, advances and evidence into decision-making platforms. This process includes working with national governments, civil society partners and global bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO). In March 2018, St. Jude was officially designated the first and only WHO Collaborating Centre for Childhood Cancer. In September 2018, WHO formally announced the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer. The Health Systems Unit and St. Jude Global provide coordination and technical support for collaborative efforts with WHO at its headquarters, regional and country offices.


Our Team


Catherine G. Lam, MD, MPH

Director, Asia Pacific Regional Program

Director, Health Systems Unit

Associate Member, St. Jude Faculty

Co-Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Childhood Cancer

Full Bio




To learn more about the Health Systems Program, email