By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
80 per cent of the world’s paediatric cancer cases occur in low and middle income countries such as Pakistan and childhood cancer care in the country stands to improve as US-based St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a global leader in children’s cancer care and research, launches a series of partnerships aimed at enhancing the standard of oncology services in the country.
A memorandum of understanding in Pakistan has been signed by Dr Carlos Rodriquez Galindo, executive director at St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and Dr Adil Haider, dean of AKU’s medical college, at a ceremony on April 23.
“The majority of children in the developing world still lose their lives to cancers that can be effectively treated. No child should die in the prime of their life and our partnerships with institutions like AKU will play a crucial role in realising our goal of enhancing paediatric cancer survival rates around the world,” Dr Galindo remarked.
As a member of St. Jude Global’s alliance, AKU’s healthcare professionals and researchers will benefit from a range of capacity building, research and knowledge-sharing initiatives aimed at strengthening Pakistan’s child cancer health system and at developing patient-centered initiatives across the continuum of care.
The partnership will see nurses, paediatric oncology specialists and intensive care unit staff at AKU’s teaching hospital benefit from specialised courses as well as hands-on training at the Memphis-based research hospital.
The research faculty will also participate in initiatives to generate new knowledge in the field and to develop collaborative projects with partner institutions in the global network.
The staff at AKU will also work with the Pakistan Society of Paediatric Oncology to extend the benefits of the global partnership to public, private and charity hospitals with paediatric oncology units in the country.
Early partners in the alliance with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital include Indus Hospital and the National Institute of Child Health.
“This partnership is for all children in Pakistan. Our specialists see some of the most complicated late-stage cases of childhood cancer cases and we’re keen to collaborate on initiatives that will raise the standard of oncology services across Pakistan,” Professor Zehra Fadoo, head of oncology services at AKU’s teaching hospital, stated.
An estimated 80 per cent of the world’s paediatric cancer patients live in low and middle income countries and the MoU is in line with the University’s commitment to achieve targets under goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals which seek a one-third reduction in cancer mortality and morbidity by 2030.
The university had entered into a similar agreement with Fred Hutch, another global leader in cancer research and care, in March 2019.