Teaching Egyptian Doctors to Care for Young Cancer Patients

By Mark Kieran, MD, PhD

In 2006, a group of Egyptian doctors arrived at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to seek our help. Could we teach them how to care for the rising numbers of children with cancer, in their own country?

Today, the answer is a resounding yes. On September 21, we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Egypt Cancer Network and Children’s Hospital Egypt 57357 to create a fellowship training program in pediatric oncology for physicians in Egypt, the Middle East, and North Africa. Together with our Egyptian colleagues, we aim to improve childhood cancer outcomes in the region by exchanging ideas and knowledge.

Mark Kieran, MD, PhD

We began this important collaboration by partnering physicians and nurses in Cairo with mentors in Boston, and since 2006 we have already seen significant improvement. However, there is still a shortage of resources in this region. The current pool of pediatric oncologists here is very small.

CCHE 57357, located in Cairo, is the largest freestanding pediatric cancer hospital in the world. It is a modern facility with electronic medical records, school programs for hospitalized patients, and supportive specialties.

The fellowships, launching in 2013, will involve several years of study in pediatric oncology, mostly in Egypt but partly in Boston. We’ll have visiting professors from Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s and case reviews through teleconference.

Our collaboration will provide a formal framework for pediatric oncology training and mentoring for Egyptian, North African and Middle Eastern pediatricians in line with international standards, and will create a pool of qualified pediatric oncologists who can ensure continued progress in the region. These fellows will be trained to care for their own patients and will train others in the region. Eventually, we’ll become irrelevant.

We are very excited about the program and look forward to working with our Egyptian colleagues to help prepare tomorrow’s cancer doctors.

Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, is medical director of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, and a member of the medical advisory board for the Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357’s pediatric oncology fellowship program.