Impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic on pediatric oncology care in the Middle East, North Africa, and West Asia Region: A report from the Pediatric Oncology East and Mediterranean (POEM) Group

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Impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic on pediatric oncology care in the Middle East, North Africa, and West Asia Region: A report from the Pediatric Oncology East and Mediterranean (POEM) Group

JournalCancer
Publication date – Jul – 2020
Authors – Raya Saab MD, Anas Obeid MD, Fatiha Gachi MD, Houda Boudiaf MD, Lilit Sargsyan MD, Khulood Al‐Saad MD, Tamar Javakhadze MD, Azim Mehrvar MD, Sawsan Sati Abbas MD, Yasir Saadoon Abed Al‐Agele MD, Salma Al‐Haddad MD, Mouroge Hashim Al Ani MD, Suleiman Al‐Sweedan MD, Amani Al Kofide MD, Wasil Jastaniah MD, Nisreen Khalifa MD, Elie Bechara MD, Malek Baassiri MD, Peter Noun MD, Jamila El‐Houdzi MD, Mohammed Khattab MD, Krishna Sagar Sharma MD, Yasser Wali MD, Naureen Mushtaq MD, Aliya Batool MD, Mahwish Faizan MD, Muhammad Rafie Raza MD, Mohammad Najajreh MD, Mohammed Awad Mohammed Abdallah MD, Ghada Sousan MD, Khaled M. Ghanem MD, Ulker Kocak MD, Tezer Kutluk MD, Hacı Ahmet Demir MD, Hamoud Hodeish MD, Samar Muwakkit MD, Asim Belgaumi MD, Abdul‐Hakim Al‐Rawas MD, Sima Jeha MD
Keywordscare delivery, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19), middle‐income countries, Pandemic, pediatric oncology
Open access – Yes
SpecialityPaediatric surgery, Surgical oncology
World region Global

Language – English
Submitted to the One Surgery Index on July 26, 2020 at 3:25 am
Abstract:

Background
Childhood cancer is a highly curable disease when timely diagnosis and appropriate therapy are provided. A negative impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic on access to care for children with cancer is likely but has not been evaluated.

METHODS
A 34‐item survey focusing on barriers to pediatric oncology management during the COVID‐19 pandemic was distributed to heads of pediatric oncology units within the Pediatric Oncology East and Mediterranean (POEM) collaborative group, from the Middle East, North Africa, and West Asia. Responses were collected on April 11 through 22, 2020. Corresponding rates of proven COVID‐19 cases and deaths were retrieved from the World Health Organization database.

Results
In total, 34 centers from 19 countries participated. Almost all centers applied guidelines to optimize resource utilization and safety, including delaying off‐treatment visits, rotating and reducing staff, and implementing social distancing, hand hygiene measures, and personal protective equipment use. Essential treatments, including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy, were delayed in 29% to 44% of centers, and 24% of centers restricted acceptance of new patients. Clinical care delivery was reported as negatively affected in 28% of centers. Greater than 70% of centers reported shortages in blood products, and 47% to 62% reported interruptions in surgery and radiation as well as medication shortages. However, bed availability was affected in <30% of centers, reflecting the low rates of COVID‐19 hospitalizations in the corresponding countries at the time of the survey.

Conclusions
Mechanisms to approach childhood cancer treatment delivery during crises need to be re‐evaluated, because treatment interruptions and delays are expected to affect patient outcomes in this otherwise largely curable disease.

OSI Number – 20593

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