As a result of a public-private partnership, the first pediatric oncology workshop for Iraqi oncologists was held at the King Hussein Cancer Center (KHCC) in Amman, Jordan April 18-19. This workshop was part of a program established for training Iraqi pediatric oncologists and other personnel as a follow-up to the June 2003 international conference, Partners Towards Helping Pediatric Cancer Patients in Iraq, held in Amman. In December 2003, a needs-assessment team sponsored by Project Hope and NCI traveled to Amman where they met with Iraqi physicians and generated recommendations for training that formed the basis for the April workshop. The workshop itself was a joint effort of NCI's Office of International Affairs, KHCC, the International Network for Cancer Treatment and Research (INCTR), and the Lombardi Cancer Center of Georgetown University. Iraqi physicians' travel to Amman was facilitated by the Iraqi Ministry of Health and the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Nine hematologists and pediatric oncologists from Baghdad, Basrah, and Mosul attended the 2-day workshop, which focused on pediatric leukemia, lymphoma, and supportive and palliative care. The distinguished international faculty included experts from St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, the Lombardi Cancer Center, INCTR, KHCC, and the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre of Saudi Arabia. Current management of pediatric leukemia and lymphomas was discussed in detail on the first day of the workshop and with relevance to the state of medical care currently available in Iraq. The Iraqi oncologists presented their data from individual hospitals, highlighting problems that included early mortality from infectious complications and lack of availability of chemotherapy agents, antibiotics, and blood product support. The second day of the workshop featured discussions and presentations on the management of infections in the immunocompromised patient, transfusion therapy, and end-of-life care.
In addition to the presentations at the workshop, the Iraqi physicians were given pediatric textbooks, handouts, and articles relevant to the workshop topics. Immediate educational needs, the fulfillment of which could improve the care of Iraqi children, such as continuation of ongoing training, Internet and Telesynergy® access, and help with treatment protocols, were identified. Feedback from the Iraqi oncologists at the end of the workshop was very positive, and a follow-up workshop is planned for October 2004 as part of the INCTR annual meeting, which is to be held in Cairo. Details are available at http://www.inctr.org.