St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon at the American University of Beirut Medical Center have shown how to provide cancer care during a crisis.
The two facilities have teamed up for years to improve cancer treatment for children in Lebanon.
They hired and trained staff and medical specialists. They formed national networks to bring the latest treatment to more children. A Lebanese foundation helped support those efforts.
Then in 2011, war broke out in Syria.
Between March 2011 and May 2017, the Beirut children’s cancer center assessed nearly 600 refugees. The center and its networks covered part or all treatment for more than 300 of those children. The other patients had medical consultations exams, treatment and referrals.
The patients include 159 who finished treatment and had no signs of cancer at their last check-ups.
“Our experience shows that effective pediatric cancer treatment is possible even in crisis situations,” said Sima Jeha, MD, of the St. Jude Department of Oncology and Global Pediatric Medicine. “These children would have died because they happened to have cancer at the same time their families were displaced by war.”
Work has begun to develop more networks in the Middle East to care for such children with cancer.