Division of Hematology-Oncology wins Best Poster at the 42nd Congress of the Societe Internationale d'Oncologie Pediatrique

Students enrolled in a cancer training course

November 15th, 2010 - Dr. Paula Aristizabal, a UCSD Pediatrics Hematology-Oncology Fellow, presented a poster that was selected as the Best Poster at the 42nd Congress of the Societe Internationale d'Oncologie Pediatrique (International Society of Pediatric Oncology) on October 24th, 2010 in Boston, MA. The poster featured the rapid success of a newly built pediatric oncology program in 1.5 years due largely to an effective partnership between Rady Children’s Hospital, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Hospital General of Tijuana along the US-Mexico border.

"Until recently, many children with cancer from Baja California (Mexico) went untreated," shares Dr. Bill Roberts, Division Chief of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at UC San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital. "Through ‘twinning’, we hoped to successfully implement a form of cooperation between centers in developed and developing countries, whereby knowledge and organizational skills could be shared, and pediatric oncology units could be established in a culturally sensitive manner that was also adapted to the local health care systems."

After 1.5 years, the hospital-center partnership was able to open a new isolated unit, train nurses and medical staff, and establish a dedicated inter-disciplinary team led by a local pediatric oncologist. Over 120 patients have benefited from accurate diagnosis and treatment plans, access to pediatric subspecialties, supportive care, infection control, specialized nurses, dedicated pediatricians, a trained pharmacist, and psychosocial and nutritional support programs. In December 2008, the pediatric oncology service received the Mexican National Accreditation ensuring full coverage by a Federal insurance program, insuring local sustainability.

Ongoing initiatives include a shelter, a campaign in “Early Detection of Childhood Cancer”, calculation of survival rates, and expanding education and subsidies.

As a result of this rapid development of a full-fledged solution, collaborators Dr. Paula Aristizabal and Dr. William Roberts from Rady Children’s, and Dr. Raul Ribiero from St. Jude Children’s, concluded that initiatives in the border region constituted a unique model of twinning since the proximity permitted close follow-up and led to the establishment of programs in record time, benefiting hundreds of children along the border.

Written by: Shivani Singh, Sr. Writer, Pediatrics, UCSD, RCHSD s1singh@ucsd.edu