The St. Jude International Outreach Program actively fosters the development of regional networks among our international partners and collaborators. This model of outreach moves beyond our successful one-on-one partnership approach by promoting self-sufficiency and the sharing of expertise among international sites. Through this model, we aim to accelerate global improvements in the clinical care of children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
This relatively new approach has already led to the creation of three successful international networks, with more in development.
AHOPCA: The Asociación de Hemato-Oncología Pediátrica de Centro América
The AHOPCA was one of the first organizations formed to address the disparity in pediatric cancer care in low- to middle-income countries in Central America. This network provides educational and training opportunities to local health care providers, as well as a framework for collaboration between participating institutions. The AHOPCA includes members from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Panama.
A major achievement of the AHOPCA under St. Jude leadership is the implementation of standardized treatment regimens across multiple institutions to improve therapy for children with cancer. This effort has had substantial impact. Since 2000, shared therapeutic regimens for more than 10 different childhood cancers have been implemented, and thousands of children have been treated on AHOPCA-funded protocols.
POEM: Pediatric Oncology East and Mediterranean Group
Formed in 2013, POEM is a cooperative network of physicians, scientists and health care professionals from more than 50 pediatric cancer centers across the Middle East and Mediterranean. The goal of POEM is to improve pediatric oncology research, training, patient care and advocacy by working in multidisciplinary teams across political and territorial boundaries. Ultimately, POEM will serve as a platform for launching cooperative clinical trials and optimizing care for children with cancer.
POEM opens up remarkable opportunities for St. Jude to help build local capacity and improve cancer care through regional partnerships and collaborations. Our St. Jude partner site in Lebanon serves as the administrative center for POEM, and St. Jude faculty and staff serve as expert consultants and sit on the POEM Board of Directors.
POEM includes health care professionals at St. Jude partner sites and collaborating centers in more than 20 countries, including Armenia, Bahrain, Egypt, India, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunis, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
National Childhood ALL Study Group in China
Many children in China with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) do not receive optimal treatment. In 2005, physicians at Beijing Children’s Hospital and Shanghai Children’s Medical Center (SCMC), with support from St. Jude, began exploring ways to optimize ALL treatment in China. To expand on the successes of this effort, St. Jude faculty collaborated with colleagues at SCMC and other centers to establish the first National Childhood ALL Study Group in 2014.
The goal of the National Study Group is to improve the overall quality of care and cure rates for ALL across the nation through research and implementation of enhanced therapies. To date, 20 major centers in China are participating. Through this effort, which links top clinicians and scientists to peers at St. Jude, 1,500 to 2,000 patients per year will be treated in a national treatment protocol.
The efforts of the St. Jude International Outreach Program in tackling ALL in China demonstrate how a small investment in the care of children in a small number of centers can open the doors to new life-saving treatments for thousands of children.