Baghdad Resolve

According to WHO statistics, Iraq has the highest rate of pediatric cancer and leukemia deaths in the world. (2004) War, economic sanctions, ongoing violence and instability have made if difficult if not impossible to tackle this very serious health crisis in the last decades; impossible for Iraqis and difficult for the international community. Many Iraqi doctors have left the country since the first Gulf War in 1990; many others have been killed. Those who stayed in Iraq struggle to meet critical medical needs with dwindling medical resources, including medicines and medical supplies, equipment and well trained personnel.

Dr. Mazin with a sad boy

Two pediatric oncologists, Drs. Salma al-Haddad and Mazin al-Jadiry, at Children's Welfare Teaching Hospital (CWTH) in Medical City Baghdad have remained in Iraq, committed to providing the best possible care for their patients. Facing limited capacity and resources at home, they reached out to international organizations, institutions and individuals, and responded positively to appropriate offers for help from internationals. Two long-established collaborations, with doctors at La Sapienza University in Rome and with the Iraqi Children's Art Exchange in western Massachusetts, USA have been brought together with a new team from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston to create Baghdad Resolve: An International Collaboration to Improve Cancer Care in Iraq. Working with Drs. Salma and Mazin and other medical professionals at Children's Welfare Teaching Hospital, the project promises medical and psychosocial help from the international community.

Help can be a delicate matter. We know from our experience and from the literature emerging from the growing network of international NGOs and humanitarian organizations, that working together successfully, across the divides of language, culture and politics requires more than good intentions. Learn about the local context, ask lots of questions and listen with humility recommends the Partners in Health (PIH) Program Management Guide (2011). We have been doing that for some years. To the extent that Westerners, with limited direct access to Iraq can, we understand the context in which our Iraqi partners have been working over these last decades. We believe we understand the challenges and frustrations of all those trying to care for children in Iraqi hospitals, the doctors, nurses and parents who have not been able to provide adequate care or protection for children amidst the chaos in Iraq.


Dr. Salma with a small boy

To improve the diagnosis, medical care and outcomes of pediatric cancer patients in Iraq. To create opportunities for international partners to work with Iraqi doctors, hospitals and civil society organizations in developing and sustaining holistic projects and programs to identify and help meet the needs of pediatric cancer patients, their families and the doctors, nurses and medical staff who care for them.


Salma Abbas Al-Hadad, MD Pediatric Hemato-Oncologist, Baghdad College of Medicine. Children Welfare Teaching Hospital, Medical City, Baghdad

Mazin F. Al-Jadiry, MD Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist, Children's Welfare Teaching Hospital, Medical City, Baghdad

Corrado Girmenia, MD Department of Hematology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

Kathleen E. Houlahan, MSN, MHA, RN Nurse Director, Hematology/Oncology/Stem Cell Transplant, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Harvard Medical School, USA

Mark W. Kieran, MD, PhD Director, Pediatric Medical Neuro-Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Harvard Medical School

Leslie Lehmann, MD Director, Pediatric Hematopoietic Stem CellTransplant Program; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Harvard Medical School

Maria Luisa Moleti, MD, Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Unit, Department o Hematology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

Luigi Ruco, MD, Pathology Unit Director, Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Sant’Andrea Hospital, Sapienza University ofRome, Italy

Anna Maria Testi, MD, Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Unit Director, Department of Hematology, Sapienza U

Stefania Uccini, MD, Pathology Unit, Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Sant'Andrea Hospital, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy


Richard Brunswick, M.D. Board Certification in Family Medicine. Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ) in Geriatrics. M.S.W. Smith College School of Social Work, M.P.H. UMASS Amherst. He is the author of Can't Quit? Bullsh*t.

Paula Green
, Director, Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation
 Professor of conflict transformation at SIT Graduate Institute, and the founder-director of Conflict Transformation Across Cultures (CONTACT), a graduate certificate program of the SIT Summer Peacebuilding Institute held annually for peacemakers from around the world.

Linda Liebenberg, Ph.D. is Co-Director of the Resilience Research Centre and Adjunct Professor at the School of Social Work, Dalhousie University. She is a methodologist with an interest in image-based methods and mixed-method designs. Linda’s research examines the use of these methods in understanding the lives of children and youth living in challenging contexts.

Mary C. Smith Fawzi, Sc.D., Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School in the Program in Infectious Disease and Social Change in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. \Dr. Smith Fawzi is an epidemiologist trained at the Harvard School of Public Health with direct experience running NIH-funded research and training projects. She has international experience in study design and/or implementation in Tanzania, Iraq, Thailand, Peru, Haiti, and Kazakhsta

Michael Ungar, Ph.D. is Co-Director of the Resilience Research Centre. He is also a Killiam Professor of Social Work, University Research Professor, and Professor, in the School of Social Work at Dalhousie University.

Back to projects