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Waging All-Out War on Cancer

Cancer in the Middle East is on the rise. By 2030, experts predict that the incidence of cancer will double from 2012, thanks to factors such as comparatively limited access to quality health care and detrimental lifestyle choices.

I had the honor earlier this summer of speaking at the War on Cancer Middle East 2018, a now-annual conference presented by The Economist magazine. The event—held this year in Dubai, UAE—brought together leaders from government, health care, academia and the consumer industry to look at how the Middle East can manage its cancer burden.

I joined leaders from Pfizer, Philips and VPS Healthcare for the panel “Innovation in Health Systems,” and although we each approached this topic with different lenses, we had the common aim of identifying innovations in health care that we can implement today to wipe out cancer once and for all.

You can view highlights of the event and panel in this video.

Themes we discussed include how technology can help health systems put patients at the center of care. We recognized that health care is rightfully shifting from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to treatment and medication to high-value, personalized therapies. We agreed that health systems around the globe must invest in digital strategies to overcome longstanding constraints (distance, patient mobility, hospital overcrowding, ER overuse) to diagnose and treat cancer and other diseases.

I was proud to represent Johns Hopkins, which has a long history of driving innovation. For example, earlier this year, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types (ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colorectum, lung and breast). These eight cancer types account for more than 60 percent of cancer deaths in the United States, and five of these cancers previously had no screening test. This is a major breakthrough.

Additionally, through our global affiliations—including a strong presence in the Gulf region—we share best clinical practices, train future clinicians and administrators, and inspire research and discovery that can help other health systems around the world advance how they provide patient care. The Economist’s invitation to participate in this global event was a great opportunity to share Johns Hopkins’ innovation and inspiration and encourage our colleagues to work across industries and boundaries to win the war on cancer.


Pamela Paulk

As president from 2015 to 2018, Pamela Paulk oversaw Johns Hopkins Medicine International’s enterprises, including developing sustainable international health collaborations with affiliates in nearly 20 countries and providing medical concierge services for thousands of international and out-of-state patients.

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