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EORTC strategic meeting with Middle Eastern Ambassadors

On 18th of September 2023, EORTC had the honour and pleasure to welcome to our headquarters in Brussels HE Mr Khalid Fahad Al-Hajri, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Her Excellency Mrs Saja Majali, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to Belgium, the European Union and NATO, HE Mrs Rua Issa Ashraf Alzadjali, Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman to Belgium and the EU, Mrs Sandra Oweida, Deputy Chief of the Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the Kingdom of Belgium, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and the European Union, and Mr Ahmad Alzureikat, Second Secretary of the Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to Belgium, the European Union and NATO. HRH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, Honorary President of the EORTC Cancer Research Fund (EORTC/ECRF) has virtually chaired the meeting.

The objectives were to inform about EORTC, its achievements and contributions to therapeutic progress for cancer patients, and about the PECAN Initiative: Partnership with EORTC for Clinical Cancer Research Capacities in Arab Countries Networking, developed jointly by EORTC and the King Hussein Cancer Center in Jordan, serving as the EORTC Middle East Coordinating Office (MECO).

PECAN aims to contribute to the retention of cancer patients in their countries and to the provision of the highest standards of care by leveraging technical capabilities to conduct clinical research programs across multiple cancer centers in the region. The objectives of PECAN are therefore multi-fold: technical, operational, intellectual, and scientific.

The PECAN initiative promises to change the landscape of clinical cancer research in our region. Most importantly it will give lifesaving access to clinical trials to patients in our region who so far been excluded from such access.

HRH Princess Dina Mired

To achieve this, the plan is to establish a network of cancer research centres supported by MECO and to set up cooperative agreements between EORTC, MECO, and investigational centres. The primary aim is to streamline regulatory processes and improve the acceptance of clinical research in the region while initiating dialogues on cancer policies and policies associated with cancer clinical research.

EORTC is also planning to develop educational programmes, including courses, symposia, and fellowship programmes, to raise awareness and build knowledge and capacity for the methodology of cancer clinical research. PECAN will provide access to the EORTC portfolio of studies relevant to the region, as well as access to cancer experts and international symposia.

EORTC wants to build strong meaningful partnerships and contribute to the development of a regional long-term scientific strategy, to stimulate the emergence of specific clinical research hypotheses that are relevant to patients in the region.

Clinical cancer research has direct benefits for patients and society alike. It has a structuring effect on patient management, and it helps raise the standards of care. It eventually impacts treatment guidelines. Indeed, international clinical trials will help the expertise grow, not only to embrace large, shared programmes, but also to address specific regional medical issues. EORTC trusts that this initiative aligns with the strategic vision for the countries represented and is looking forward to activating clinical research activities in line with local regulations.

The Ambassadors and diplomats present at the meeting strongly expressed their will to help EORTC by supporting the procedures to activate and operationalise academic clinical trials in Arab countries, providing access to relevant stakeholders, and raising awareness of the general public on the importance of academic clinical trials.

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