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Meeting a Thirst – The 1st International Palestinian Oncology and Palliative Care Nursing Conference


From: European Oncology Nursing Society

Added: Thursday 20 December 2018

The First International Palestinian Oncology and Palliative Care Nursing Conference took place on 4 December 2018 at Bethlehem University. More than 120 delegates attended. The programme was packed with presentations from nurses and doctors and included their work around genetic mutations in breast cancer, truth-telling to patients at end-of-life and extended nursing roles.

EONS has a close relationship with the development of cancer nursing in Palestine and the conference was attended by EONS Board Member Professor Theresa Wiseman of the Royal Marsden, London, who spoke about innovation in cancer care.

Dr Mariam Samara Awad, Dean of Nursing at Bethlehem University, paid tribute to EONS’ role: “With the support of EONS, I have been able to establish PONS – The Palestinian Oncology Nursing Society, the first organisation of its kind in Palestine. Through PONS we have begun to develop and improve oncology care, particularly in the area of palliative care where there is great need.”

There is a shortage of qualified nursing staff in Palestine. EONS has granted scholarships for PONS member students to attend masterclasses and has supported others to participate in EONS’ international conferences. In 2016, with EONS’ support, Bethlehem University established the Higher Diploma Program of Oncology and Palliative Care in Palestine, which is using the EONS curriculum. The first cohort graduated in summer 2018 – and two of the graduates have already set up a palliative care unit in Jerusalem. At the conference, one of them, Mohammad Al Qadi, presented on the Paediatric Palliative Care Service being set up at Augusta Victoria Hospital, East Jerusalem.

Dr Awad commented “It was good to hear how cancer and palliative care nursing is developing in Palestine. To continue improving the education for nurses, we are in the process of opening a Masters program in Oncology, hopefully it will start by autumn 2019 with the support of the Palestinian Ministry of Health.”

Keynote speaker Professor Julia Downing, an experienced palliative care nurse, educationalist and researcher from the UK, spoke on palliative care and its importance for all cancer patients, especially children.

During the event, the Palestinian Deputy Minister of Health shared his strategy for cancer, which was broad in its reach. Dr Awad called upon governmental and non-governmental organisations to exert concerted efforts to improve the health services to cancer patients in Palestine, to avoid duplication of services, and to establish a palliative care unit.

In conclusion, Dr Awad stated: “I believe that each one of us can make a difference no matter where we work or what we do, but we can achieve great things when we work together.” The Scientific Committee was chaired by Dr Jaqualyn Moore, of Kings College, London, (Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery &

Palliative Care) who has been instrumental in supporting the development of cancer nursing in Palestine.

The main sponsor of the conference was Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

PONS has members from both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and invites new members to join.

You can find contact details for the society on this site

Find out more about the conference here:

And view more pictures here:

Dr Awad’s Conference speech

Dr Awad gave the opening speech of the conference to set the scene and welcome guests. You can download Dr Awad’s speech.

Photo gallery


Professor Julia Downing addresses conference


Professor Theresa Wiseman and Dr Jacqualyn Moore


Dr Mariam Awad


Graduates of the Higher Diploma of Oncology and

Palliative Care in Palestine with Dr Awad (far right of photo)


Mohammad Al Qadi



Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine