Children with Cancer Evacuated from Gaza for Treatment in Egypt and Jordan

In a collaborative initiative led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 12 children grappling with cancer or blood disorders have been successfully evacuated from the Gaza Strip to Egypt and Jordan. This crucial effort ensures these young patients can continue their life-saving treatment in a safe environment. With more evacuations anticipated, the WHO and St. Jude have worked closely with officials from Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the occupied Palestinian territory, and the United States.

The ongoing conflict in the region has presented significant challenges, hindering the movement of patients from Gaza and imposing severe restrictions on the entry of essential medical supplies, including chemotherapy. Hospitals within Gaza that offer cancer care have been stretched to their limits, facing shortages and security threats that have compelled some to close their doors.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, expressed relief that children, in vital need of cancer care, have been able to leave the insecurity and uncertainty in Gaza, emphasizing the collective efforts to prioritize the health needs of these young patients.

James R. Downing, M.D., President and CEO of St. Jude, highlighted the effective collaboration between WHO and St. Jude in facilitating the evacuation of pediatric cancer patients from Gaza. Drawing on past experiences, he pointed out the critical role that global relationships play in such humanitarian efforts.

In 2022, a staggering 122 children in Gaza were diagnosed with cancer, with leukemia being the predominant type. Due to the lack of certain cancer services within Gaza, these children require referrals to hospitals in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Egypt, Israel, and Jordan for continued treatment.

This humanitarian initiative not only underscores the immediate need to address healthcare challenges in conflict zones but also advocates for sustained, orderly, and unimpeded medical evacuations. The WHO and St. Jude are committed to facilitating more evacuations, recognizing the urgency of ensuring the safety and well-being of vulnerable populations, especially children in the midst of conflict.

This collaborative effort is a testament to the global community’s commitment to putting health and peace at the forefront, even in the face of challenging geopolitical circumstances. As the conflict continues, such initiatives stand as beacons of hope for those caught in the crossfire, emphasizing the universal right to access essential healthcare, particularly for the most vulnerable among us.

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