Public Health and International Cooperation: A Presentation with Her Royal Highness Princess Dina

On Saturday, Sept. 26, 2021 in the Lang Performing Arts Center theater, Swarthmore’s International Relations Club hosted a virtual talk with Her Royal Highness Princess Dina Mired of Jordan about international cooperation in public health. Organized by IR Club board member Robert Said ’23, the talk occurred from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Students were notified about the talk in an email through the Lang Center Weekly Newsletter on Sept. 21. Information about the event was then forwarded to students through multiple departments. 

As the mother of a cancer survivor, HRH Mired embarked on a mission of global and domestic cancer advocacy on behalf of cancer patients and their families. She has since become a leading international figure in cancer advocacy. From 2006-2016, she served as the Honorary Chairperson of the Jordan Breast Cancer Program and in 2018, became the first Arab ever elected to be President of the Union for International Cancer Control, the largest international cancer-combating organization. She was also elected to deliver the keynote speech at the opening of the United Nations’ General Assembly first ever High Level Meeting on non-communicable diseases. Now, HRH Mired resides in Jordan and continues to advocate for international cooperation against cancer through her various roles and positions. 

The talk on Saturday was divided into two segments in which HRH Mired first responded to general questions prompted by Said about her work and special achievements. In particular, HRH Mired discussed the difficulties of overcoming fears and superstitions surrounding cancer care in Jordan during the late 1990s and early 2000s, when a cancer diagnosis was considered almost inevitably fatal. 

To overcome these fears, HRH Mired renamed the national cancer treatment center from the “Hope Center,” which did not include the word “cancer” in its name, to “The King Hussein Cancer Center” after the late King Hussein who passed away from cancer. 

With time, she transformed the center into a leading regional cancer center that treats not only Jordanians but individuals from other neighbouring Arab countries as well. Following her successes in Jordan, HRH Mired went on to improve cancer programs and NCD treatments on an international scale. 

After providing an overview of her work and achievements in cancer care advocacy, HRH Mired responded to questions posed by students in attendance in a Q&A format. Students who asked questions were primarily interested in the logistics and challenges of international cooperation, how to gather interest in advocacy issues, and what systems, supply chains, and infrastructures must be in place in order to facilitate improvements in public health. 

In an interview with The Phoenix, Said described what most interested and inspired him about the talk. 

“What stuck out to me most about her presentation — and just generally her life trajectory — is how someone with no medical background or formal medical training was able to achieve so much in the medical field … learning about that was both inspiring and motivating,” he said. 

Said also emphasized the significance of HRH Mired’s talk within the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

“One very important aspect of her talk was how much she emphasized international cooperation. Within the context of the [COVID-19] pandemic, we can see how, especially early on….international cooperation was lacking [in terms of mask distribution]. And even right now, some countries are taking the third booster or third vaccine dose while other countries haven’t even gotten their first. So, we can see how cooperation in the international community has significant implications for any health crises,” he said. 

With so much to do and improve within the fields of public health and international cooperation, Said hopes that students who attended the talk learned and became inspired by HRH Mired’s experiences. For more information on HRH Mired and her various experiences, please see the following link

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