SickKids International working to enhance paediatric oncology care in Greece and across the Eastern Mediterranean

As part of its mandate to explore global opportunities to enhance child health and build system capacity, SickKids International (SKI) establishes collaborative relationships with national and international partners. The latest collaboration is taking place in Greece, where SickKids International is advising Aghia Sofia Children’s Hospital of Athens and ELPIDA (Friends Association of Children with Cancer) on the development of clinical care best practices for its Marianna V. Vardinoyannis – ELPIDA Children’s Oncology Unit.

The goal of Aghia Sofia Children’s Hospital and ELPIDA is for the Oncology Unit to become a centre of excellence for paediatric oncology care, serving the needs of children and their families in Athens, in Greece, and across the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean region. They have asked SickKids to assist in achieving this goal, through a combination of advisory services, as well as learning programs via the International Education Program.

SKI conducted a site visit with the ELPIDA/Aghia Sofia Children’s Hospital’s oncology team in May 2013 to explore opportunities for collaboration. The opportunity was first presented to SickKids International by the Canadian Ambassador to Greece, Robert Peck, and the Consul General of Greece to Toronto, Dimitris Azemopoulos.

Following the site visit, a memorandum of understanding was signed, which solidified an agreement to further pursue the advancement of the project. To help SickKids identify areas of focus, a multi-disciplinary team from the Division of Haematology/Oncology conducted a one-week needs assessment in November 2013. The findings of the report, and recommendations arising from it, were presented by SickKids to the senior management of both the Aghia Sofia Children’s Hospital and the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis – ELPIDA Children’s Oncology Unit in February 2014, and then to the Greek Minister of Health. All parties have indicated a desire to pursue the implementation of the recommendations set out in the needs assessment report.