MECC followed up the regional registry project with a region-wide response to the initial registry information, aimed at developing a formal capacity for palliative care services in the region with the mission of increasing awareness and advocacy for palliative care services which were desperately in need in most countries. To do so effectively, MECC established a baseline of information on palliative care services in its six partnership jurisdictions, examining barriers to the delivery of palliative care that might exist, and promoting solutions (NIH Publication No. 07-6230, 2008).

Late presentation of cancer patients has serious medical, social and economic consequences for the patients, their families and the community, yet palliative care for cancer patients is still a largely unknown and unrecognized discipline in most Middle Eastern countries. As a consequence, basic educational and training courses are still needed for all countries involved. The education of clinicians, administrators and ministerial representatives was and remains the first step in overcoming the obstacles and barriers that physicians, nurses, social workers and psychologists face in their efforts to develop palliative care services within their institutions and communities. New palliative care units and plans were recently inaugurated in several countries in the region.

Moving forward, MECC aims to promote palliative care to cancer patients throughout the Middle East. Since cultural traditions lead most cancer patients in the region to prefer to die at home, with their families at their side, MECC's high-priority goal is to develop and staff community-based palliative care services for patients and families.

MECC's approach, therefore, has evolved incrementally, creating momentum through multiple small steps such as initiating supplementary education and training in various formats, fellowships, and clinical exchanges, which eventually lead to regional-scale palliative care projects.

Michael Silbermann, DMD, PhD, the Executive Director of the Middle East Cancer Consortium (MECC), believes that palliative care is often the best form of treatment in these cases; however, it’s not always offered or utilized. Access to pain medicines in the region is often limited, and even when drugs and palliative care services are available to patients they’re not always accepted. Additionally, stigmas about cancer being a hereditary disease can often deter patients from accepting treatments, let alone seeking medical help. Stigmas concerning pain medications and mental health issues related to a cancer diagnosis can often lead to patients keeping their condition a secret and choosing to forgo any palliative care.

This dire situation is one that MECC seeks to resolve by offering training and resources for oncology professionals. It is believed that through the development of palliative care programs and better communication between oncology professionals and patients, palliative care will become more widely accepted in the region. MECC has helped in initiating palliative care programs in many Middle Eastern countries. In many cases these countries have not yet recognized each other; however, MECC’s mission is not about religion or politics, but rather about humanity, interpersonal relationships, peace, and setting aside prejudices.

Overall, the tireless work at governmental, institutional, individual, and professional levels, along with the public at large, yielded new governmental national initiatives focusing on cancer care along its entire trajectory, from the screening phases to the end-of-life.