Health Tip of the Week

Dr. Nagi El Saghir Lectures on Global Health at ASCO in Chicago

Posted on 8/2/2017

As cancer care makes steadfast progress in developed countries, addressing disparities in prevention, detection, diagnosis, and overall management and outcome is still a burden beset by inequalities. Stemming from the need to call for action and in order to reduce and control the rise of cancer and make a difference in the care of cancer patients, Dr. Nagi El Saghir, Director of the Breast Center of Excellence at NKBCI at the American University of Beirut (AUB), member of American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Global Oncology task force, Global Oncology Grants Committee, Past-Chair of ASCO International Affairs Committee, Member of ESMO (European Society for Medical Oncology) Global Policy Committee, chaired and lectured at the Meet the Professor Session “Perspectives on Oncology Careers in Global Health” at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago on June 4, 2017 ( )

Dr. El Saghir defined global health as a new medical discipline that recognizes variations and disparities in healthcare, patient outcome, and research worldwide. Global Oncology aims at addressing disparities in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, surgery, medical therapy, radiation therapy, supportive care and all aspects of management, patient outcome, basic and clinical research in both high income as well as low-income countries. This new discipline is now gaining interests from physicians and other healthcare providers, universities, healthcare institutions and healthcare authorities worldwide.

Global Medicine programs are being introduced into Medical School Curricula, Masters degrees, Ph.D. degrees, as well as residencies and fellowship programs in many institutions. In global oncology research, we study various medical, social, economic, environmental, lifestyle differences as well as economic and political issues that may contribute to disparities in patient care and outcome in different regions of the world.

It is the aim of global health discipline to help develop programs and skills to better prevent, early detect, diagnose and treat patients, and improve their outcome. It deals with patients, communities, societies, resources, healthcare authorities. Healthcare providers and researchers who are involved are usually very interested and committed. Many are nowadays volunteering their time and expertize with compassion and willingness to make a difference. Societies like ASCO, ESMO, UICC, WHO, Breast Health Global Initiative BHGI, and Institutions like NIH, NCI, Harvard, University of Washington, UIC have been developing global health programs and issuing resource-stratified guidelines for management of cancer patients. Of note, AUB recently announced the launch of Global Health Initiative: ( )

Dr. El Saghir also outlined the roles that local institutions and oncology societies can play in promoting global oncology health by cooperating with international institutions and societies and promoting programs and research in their own countries. “As societies hold meetings to discuss cutting-edge therapies, they should not forget the importance of cancer-prevention programs, improving access to care and quality of care, and implementing international and resource-stratified guidelines,” said Dr. El Saghir.

He further discussed partnerships with ASCO and other international volunteer organizations that advance oncology education, promote community work and research, and improve quality care for patients and cancer prevention. He also stressed the need for national oncology societies to partner with ASCO and distribute resource-stratified guidelines and work with universities in their country to promote the ESMO/ASCO Global Curriculum for Training in Medical Oncology. 

For several years, Dr. El Saghir has added outstanding contributions to the understanding of breast cancer in young women and improving outcome of breast cancer patients in Lebanon and worldwide. His research and activities are centered on breast cancer and young women, genetic mutations, early detection, awareness, treatment, international guidelines, patient support and advocacy, as well as management of breast cancer in low and middle income countries, multidisciplinary tumor boards and dissemination of oncology knowledge and education through Best of ASCO meetings. As Founding President, he recently co-chaired the 12th Annual Best of ASCO meeting, with co-chair Sana Al-Sukhun, MD, President of the Jordanian Oncology Society, and Joseph Makdessi, MD, President of the Lebanese Society of Medical Oncology. Dr. El Saghir said, “Best of ASCO is a great example of fruitful collaboration between national and regional oncology societies with International societies like ASCO, in order to advance global oncology and enhance efforts to disseminate advances in continuing medical education and help cancer patients worldwide. ( )

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