Children’s Palliative Care ECHO in the Middle East: Relieving Suffering, Improving Lives

Categories: Education.

In the year 2020, over 720,000 individuals were diagnosed with cancer in the Eastern Mediterranean Region as per the World Health Organization. The number of deaths caused by cancer in the same region exceeded 450,000. Many of these individuals can benefit significantly from palliative care. Palliative care programs are in the phase of capacity building to cater to the needs of these patients and their families.

The Sunflower Children’s Network team is excited to expand their reach to the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) through Project ECHO, building on their experience from South and Southeast Asia. Recently, Two Worlds Cancer Collaboration from Canada and the Hyderabad Centre for Palliative Care from India launched an online learning programme targeting general and specialist Paediatricians, as well as physicians caring for children with serious illnesses practicing in the EMR. The ECHO education series covered the basic competencies of Paediatric Palliative Care (PPC) through weekly sessions for 6 weeks.

This program provided training in Paediatric Palliative Care using the Project ECHO model. Regional and international experts delivered didactic lectures, along with clinical case presentations from within the local context. The aim of the programme was to equip healthcare professionals with the skills to address the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of children with life-limiting illnesses and their families.

The course was led by a group of experienced faculty from the Middle East, India, USA and Canada. They have united to help build connections among healthcare professionals and offer guidance and support throughout and after the course. Key course topics included:

  • Introduction to PPC, oncology and beyond; what does a palliative care programme look like, idea of general PC
  • Opioids and pain management in children and Infants, local opioid availability
  • Supportive Communication with Parents, Breaking Bad News
  • Symptoms other than Pain
  • Play, Emotional and Spiritual Support for children and parents
  • End of life Care for Children

At the closing ceremony, Dr. Megan Doherty congratulated everyone on completing the course and highlighted the contribution of regional PPC practitioners to the learning experience by sharing stories of the children they care for. Dr. Spandana Rayala thanked everyone and mentioned that if participants wanted to start a new PPC ECHO in their respective countries, TWCC would be happy to share their experience and provide support.

This course is endorsed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (UK) and participants who successfully complete the course will receive an official certificate. This initiative is an important step towards building a health system which can support the needs of all children with serious illnesses in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.


  1. Àndrew Adeck Omuse

    Congratulations Author: Megan Doherty, Spandana Rayala, and Rizwana Hussain for the efforts of putting all this information together, for the good for pediatric palliative care teams to realize the need of going extra mile to achieve the goals.

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