About Baghdad Resolve

Vision Statement

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as "...a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Healthy individuals are the critical building blocks of families, of stable, well-functioning communities; healthy individuals working together can create and sustain economic and political systems and cultural institutions. Common sense tells us good health – of an individual, of a community or of an entire country-- is "everything", that lack of good health stands in the way of stability and peace, of personal and collective development and achievement.

We envision a world where health — as outlined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) — is a political priority, guaranteed as a human right across the globe. Where “...everyone may enjoy his/her economic, social and cultural rights as well as his/her civil and political rights to: adequate housing, education, food, social security, decent work and ‘the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.’”

We envision a world where cancer and other — what are known as — non-communicable diseases receive equal attention and priority for funding and human resources from international/global health organizations. And, where resources are developed and shared so the gap in cancer care, the existing gap between the first world and developing world, disappears.

Baghdad Resolve : An International Collaboration to Improve Cancer Care in Iraq helps to maintain and improve pediatric oncology care and outcomes on the children’s unit at Children’s Welfare Teaching Hospital  (CWTH) in Medical City Baghdad.  The unit, with a capacity of 30-40 beds, but with an actual inpatient load of 60-80, is  one of the largest cancer facilities in the Middle East, providing care for more patients than King Hussein Cancer Center (KHCC) in Jordan and more than Boston Children’s Hospital after one adjusts for age and type of malignancies.

Medical team; 2013 visit to Baghdad

Medical team; 2013 visit to Baghdad

We create opportunities for individuals, international and global organizations to work —both inside and outside of Iraq—in collaboration with Iraqi doctors and nurses, artists and civil society organizations.  We support education and training opportunities for the medical team outside of Iraq and  the participation of doctors and nurses in important professional and scientific meetings and oncology conferences abroad. 

Baghdad Resolve helps develop and support a range of education, training and psychosocial projects that seek to meet the needs of the entire community of people who inhabit this children’s cancer unit— patients and  families as well as the doctors, nurses and medical staff who care for them. 

Our approach is holistic using play, art and music as a compliment and supplement to medical care.  It is an important part of patient care and serves the adult caregivers as well, creating opportunities for expression that can provide insights and open meaningful communication between children and adults.

Our projects sit at the intersection of art and medicine, education and psychology, resilience, psychosocial intervention and children's rights.

The project is co-directed by Dr. Mazin Al-Jadiry working in collaboration with Dr. Salma Al-Hadad in Baghdad and by Claudia Lefko in the US.

“The success of the international collaboration between centers of excellence and low-income countries has been demonstrated for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. These experiences have shown that expanding efforts to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia in childhood in such countries not only improves the prognosis of patients, but mobilizes new energies, stimulates imaginative solutions and broadens public awareness.”

Haematologica/The Hematology Journal | 2006; 91(4) Impact of international collaboration on the prognosis of childhood acute promyelocytic leukemia in Iraq, Anna Maria Testi, Salma Abbas Al-Hadad, Mazin Faisal Farhan Al-Jadiry, Maria Luisa Moleti, Franco

Moving from Children’s Art to Baghdad Resolve

2001: Iraqi Children's Art Exchange

ICAE is the result of a humanitarian visit to Baghdad in December, 2001. I arrived at the children’s cancer unit in the hospital with 300 drawings from children in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, where I live, and with art materials so Iraqi children could respond. “This is just what we need,” was the response from Dr. Salma and Dr. Mazin. This generous and welcoming response was the groundwork for our ongoing partnership.

2004: The Iraqi Children’s Art Exchange

I returned to the hospital in January for a second round of art exchange and to take documenting photographs, used in exhibits and exchange project across the US and in Canada. Exhibits and talks were meant to educate and activate people on the ongoing struggles Iraqis faced after the 2003 war.

2010:  Ghorfat Almara, The Joy Room

Working in partnership with the staff on the cancer unit at the Children's Welfare Teaching Hospital, Medical City Baghdad, we created an activity/play space for the young patients on the ward. We hired a staff person, purchased some equipment-- a small table, chairs and a storage cabinet-- brought toys, educational and art materials into the space, and launched the program. In the end, there were some successes, but the project was unsustainable, and it was discontinued after six months.

2012:  Kayf al Haal:  How Are You

Realizing we needed a more extensive network of support to sustain any additional work/projects on the unit, we launched another effort. We called it The Campaign for Children’s Health in Iraq: Bringing the Cancer Crisis from the Ward to the World. The campaign sought to create and sustain a groundswell of information, sentiment and determination to take action on behalf of pediatric cancer and leukemia patients, their families, doctors and medical staff in Iraq who are struggling under the weight of this crisis. It was this effort that brought Dr. Mazin to Boston for a series of meetings that began our collaboration with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and with Harvard Medical School.

2013: Baghdad Resolve