Gaza conference: “Together beating cancer and crossing barriers”

Last month Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) organised a first-of-its-kind conference in Gaza, titled “Cancer Professionals’ Scientific Days”, bringing together a multidisciplinary team of local and international cancer specialists to make presentations on cancer management and discuss how to develop Palestinian cancer care. Over two days a wide range of issues and topics were discussed including diagnosis, staging, symptoms control and palliative care.

More than 100 multidisciplinary medical professionals from the Ministry of Health, UNRWA, NGOs and INGOs attended and discussed the current situation of cancer care in Gaza and challenges faced by patients and health workers. Together they came up with a shared vision for future collaboration to improve the quality of care provided to people with cancer in Gaza.

Importantly, many of the presentations emphasised the enormous challenges to healthcare in Gaza arising from the blockade and closure, including both the unavailability of many medicines and treatments (including radiotherapy) inside Gaza, and the barriers to patients’ ability to access permits to travel out of Gaza for the care they need. In October, for example, 42% of all patients who applied to the Israeli authorities for permits to exit Gaza for medical care were either denied or delayed past the date of the appointment. Of those applying for permits, 38% were oncology cases, many of whom were seeking treatment at Augusta Victoria and Al Mekassed hospitals in East Jerusalem. Meanwhile, 46% of essential medicines, including nearly half (48%) of all essential oncology and haemotology drugs, were at ‘zero stock’, meaning less than a month’s supply available at the Central Drug Store which supplies Gaza’s main hospitals.

The conference also highlighted the vital role of nurses in cancer care, encouraging greater integration between nurses, doctors and other medical professionals. It is hoped this will raise the profile of nurses in cancer management and ensure more ‘joined up’ treatment in Gaza’s health system

MAP supported three specialists from the UK to travel to Gaza to present at the conference. The visiting group comprised Consultant Clinical Oncologist Dr Abdulla Alhasso, Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist Gerard O’Hare, and Advanced Nurse Practitioner for Oncology Matthew Fowler. The local lecturing team included primary and secondary health care cancer specialists from both Gaza and the West Bank.

MAP would like to thank everyone who took part in our “Cancer Professionals’ Scientific Days” in Gaza.

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#Gaza #Cancer

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