Jordan’s Princess Dina Mired visited Seattle last month in her capacity as Director of the King Hussein Cancer Center, speaking at the inaugural Jill Bennet Endowed Lecture in Breast Cancer. She was joined by a host of local notables in the field. She also toured a number of the region’s biomedical institutions and organizations, learning more about the Seattle approach to patient care.
It’s an integrated approach, it turns out – totally focused on the patient’s care and experience as part of the healing process. What was more surprising was how little emphasis there is on cancer as a global health issue in the same way that malaria or tuberculosis or other communicable diseases are emphasised. As Mired noted, a child with leukemia in the developed world has an average 90 percent chance of getting treated, but in Africa that child’s chance of treatment is just 10 percent.
It’s an issue that others have noted as well. Seattle Cancer Care is only one of the organizations to be shifting to a focus on cancer as a problem for all people, regardless of development level of their region. The King Hussein Cancer Center was founded in response to Mired’s experience when her own son was diagnosed with cancer; she was able to get treatment for him in Boston, but she also realised that she was the lucky exception. Today, the Center treats over 4,000 patients from across the Middle East.
Both Mired and others commented on how easy it will be to start focusing Greater Seattle’s biomedical organizations on cancer as global health issue, given how interrelated they are. We are in a unique position to bring cancer care into the global health conversation.