The Faculty of Nursing and Health Sciences at Bethlehem University held the first international Oncology and Palliative Care Nursing Conference on Tuesday, 4 December 2018.

The conference was attended by Vice Chancellor Brother Peter Bray, Dean of the Faculty of Nursing and Health Sciences Mrs. Maryam Awad, Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Asaad Ramlawi, representatives of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), in addition to local and international experts and researchers in cancer, tumor and palliative care.

Dr. Jamil Khader, the Dean of Research and master of ceremonies, welcomed the attendees and explained the general objectives of the conference and the importance of scientific research that contributes in improving the services provided to patients.

In her opening speech, Mrs. Awad said that the growing incidence rate of cancer cases in Palestine reached 83.9 per one hundred thousand persons according to the statistics of the MOH which constitutes a great challenge to both the public and private sectors.

She added that cancer is the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular diseases in Palestine as cancer-related mortality rate has added up to 27.8 per one hundred thousand persons.

“There is a shortage of qualified nursing staff to perform a quality of care to the cancer patients, which increases the suffering of patients and their families,” she added.

She thanked those who sponsored and organized the conference, in particular the Medical Aid for Palestinians and the organizational and scientific committees of the conference.

Brother Peter said it is a pleasure to see such a group of academics and practitioners of Oncology and Palliative Care gathering to explore this further and to find ever better ways of serving the Palestinian people.

Dr. Ramlawi conveyed the greetings of the Palestinian Minister of Health Dr. Jawad Awad and gave a detailed presentation of the ministry’s strategy regarding palliative care.

He added that the Palestinian National Authority spends about $100 million per year on cancer treatments. This was one of the main reasons behind President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to establish the Khaled Al-Hasan Cancer Center.

On behalf of MAP CEO Aimee Chalan, Senior Program Officer at MAP Lina Qutob said MAP supported the Oncology and Palliative Care High Diploma program for two years now to build a solid base for nurses who are working in the field.

“The conference is a reminder of the critical importance of such work in Palestine and is a unique opportunity to share experiences and ideas of working in multi-professional teams,” she added.

The conference aimed to shed light on research in the field of Oncology and Palliative Care, as well as serve as an exchange of experiences. Four research papers were presented from the United Kingdom from different institutions and universities dealing with cancer patients.

There was also a research paper by Professor Mustafa Bader from the King Hussein Cancer Center in Jordan and the Islamic University of Gaza. Also, there were participations by Palestinian researchers from universities and local institutions such as the American University in Jenin, the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem, and the World Health Organization (WHO).