Syrian Arab Republic | News | WHO ensures life-saving treatment for cancer patients in Syria with support from Kuwait

WHO ensures life-saving treatment for cancer patients in Syria with support from Kuwait

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Hamad receives a gift package from WHO on World Cancer Day. Hamad has to come to the hospital for 5 days every 3 months to be treated for leukemiaHamad receives a gift package from WHO on World Cancer Day. Hamad has to come to the hospital for 5 days every 3 months to be treated for leukemia. WHO/Syria5 February 2018 – Thirteen-year old Hamad from rural Hama, Syrian Arab Republic, is being treated for leukaemia at the Children’s Hospital in Damascus. On Sunday 4 February, he met Elizabeth Hoff, the WHO Representative in Syria, when she visited the hospital on the occasion of World Cancer Day. He and the other children in the ward received a gift package that included a school bag, colouring book and other items. “Thank you for the bag, I will use it when I go back to school”, said Hamad. “I want to study hard and become a neurosurgeon when I grow up.”  

“Thanks to a generous new donation from Kuwait, WHO will be able to cover the cost of treating children like Hamad who suffer from cancer. This US$1 million grant will be enough to provide over 7 months’ treatment for the approximately 1500 cancer patients admitted each year to the Children’s Hospital,” said Ms Hoff.  

Aya , 2 years old has to travel for over 125 km crossing dangerous roads to get to the hospitalAya, 2 years old, has to travel for over 125 km crossing dangerous roads to get to the hospital. WHO/SyriaMany children who live outside Damascus have to travel long distances to the hospital, which is the only facility in the country that treats children suffering from cancer. Two-year old Aya, another patient, lives in Dar’a and visits the hospital with her mother and grandmother every 2 months for treatment. Many families make the journey to Damascus from Syria’s north-eastern and eastern governorates. Travelling long distances is both expensive and dangerous, since families may have to use their savings to pay for travel or cross conflict lines to obtain life-saving health care.  

“What makes helping this facility so urgent is the increasing number of patients. Every month 60 to 70 new children arrive at the hospital in the hope of being treated for free, because their families are simply unable to pay for cancer care,” said Ms Hoff.   

The Syrian Cancer Registry estimates that one person in a thousand is diagnosed with cancer each year, with children accounting for 10% of the total number of cases. Breast cancer accounts for 30% of cancers among women, followed by colon, rectal and blood cancer. Lung cancer is most commonly diagnosed in males, followed by colon, rectal and prostate cancer.

Key health-related statistics

Total population (000s)

24 422

Total health expenditure (% of general government expenditure)

4.8

Maternal mortality ratio (per 100 000 live births)

68

Primary health care centres and units (per 10 000 population)

0.8

Total life expectancy at birth (years)

63.8

Source: Framework for health information systems and core indicators for monitoring health situation and health system performance, 2018

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Regional Health Observatory