The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has joined the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research, a collaboration designed to increase early breast cancer detection and reduce related deaths in the region through improved awareness, increased clinical resources and world-class research.
The U.S. – Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research was created by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and the Middle East Partnership Initiative and launched by First Lady Laura Bush in June 2006.
The partnership in Jordan brings together medical professionals and breast cancer awareness advocates from Jordan and the United States to advance the fight in Jordan against that nation’s most prevalent form of cancer and the most common cause of cancer-related deaths among women worldwide. The partnership leverages a community-driven, culturally sensitive approach through local champions, and enhances the vital role women play in their families and communities. Institutions driving the initiative include the U.S. Department of State and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, as well as the King Hussein Cancer Center and the King Hussein Cancer Foundation, both in Jordan, in addition to M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
“We are honored to be a part of this groundbreaking effort to effect positive change in breast cancer in Jordan and the Middle East,” says John Mendelsohn, M.D., President of M. D. Anderson. “By uniting the expertise and dedication of our partners, we can more quickly advance our shared mission of eradicating cancer throughout the world.”
A signing ceremony to formalize the collaboration was part of a two-day program in Amman (March 26-27) to mark the launch of the new partnership in Jordan. In attendance were key partnership representatives, Her Royal Highness Princess Ghida Talal of Jordan, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, and Her Royal Highness Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, Director General, from the King Hussein Cancer Foundation; Erin Walsh, Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from the U.S. Department of State; Mahmoud Sarhan, M.D., CEO and Director General of the King Hussein Cancer Center; Kendra Woods, Ph.D., Director of Extramural Programs at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center; and Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder, Nancy G. Brinker. Highlights included a panel discussion sharing news about advances in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment; tours of local hospitals and community centers; and discussions about breast cancer led by Her Royal Highness Princess Ghida Tala, Nancy Brinker, and breast cancer survivors and women’s health advocates from the community.
Coinciding with the launch events Dr. Woods, who oversees international academic relations at M. D. Anderson, commenced a comprehensive assessment of the distinguished King Hussein Cancer Center, the only specialized cancer center in the Middle East treating both adult and pediatric patients, to explore areas where the two institutions can partner to enhance academic and clinical breast cancer programs.
“Our hope is to further encourage the success of this grass-roots movement in Jordan to educate women about breast cancer prevention and treatment while exploring ways to engage our respective institutions’ faculty and staff for the benefit of women in Jordan and the Middle East,” says Woods.
The Partnership in Jordan is M. D. Anderson’s most recent international academic collaboration to further the eradication of cancer worldwide through scientific discovery, advanced patient therapies, education and prevention. In addition to Jordan, agreements currently exist at institutions in Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, India, Italy, France, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
From a patient care perspective, M. D. Anderson has long welcomed and provided care for international patients from around the world, including the Middle East. To assist patients from this region who seek cancer care at M. D. Anderson in Houston, M. D. Anderson’s International Program established a regional administrative office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in 2005. The office also provides support to local oncologists and referring physicians regionally on cancer diagnosis and treatment methods, consults on patient referrals and fosters the exchange of knowledge between M. D. Anderson physicians and premier Middle Eastern cancer institutions.