Hundreds of children in Palestine are diagnosed with various forms of chronic and acute cancer every year. Due to the social-political circumstances in Palestine, most notably the military siege in Gaza and denial of access for children in the West Bank to Palestinian medical institutions in East Jerusalem, many Palestinian children do not have direct access to the specialized medical or surgical care that they need to provide a high level of adequate care. The lack of a specialized pediatric oncology/hematology department within the public health care sector in Palestine has resulted on a burden for the patients and their families. There are currently three main hospitals where pediatric oncology services, however limited, are being provided in Palestine: the Rantisi Pediatric Hospital in Gaza City, Al Hussein Hospital in Beit Jala and the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem.
The purpose of this project is to create a freestanding pediatric oncology/hematology department at the Al Hussein Hospital in Beit Jala. It will provide medical and surgical care for children requiring long-term treatment and support in the area of oncology and hematology. This project will outline the following components in building this program:
• The building of a physical department at Al Hussein Hospital in Beit Jala
• The equipping of this department with the necessary materials to provide a high level of specialized pediatric cancer care
• Facilitating and supporting international partners and institutions to train the local doctors and nurses to upgrade the standards, protocols and long-term feasibility of a unit to serve Palestine’s population
• To assist in the creation and development of a pain management and palliative care program for terminal cases in an effort to lessen the suffering and hardship on patients and their families
• Establishing a social support network to assist the patients and their families in the issues related to logistical, medical, social and financial needs involved in care related to cancer
• Centralizing the international resources and technical aid that is available for supporting this program by creating a national committee of health care providers working in pediatric oncology in Palestine for the ongoing development in this specialty.