February 15, 2018
By: Ruth Hoffman, Global President, Childhood Cancer International
Today is International Childhood Cancer Day which highlights the need for concerted global actions to address the growing challenge posed by this non-communicable disease. Globally, childhood and adolescent cancer is threatening to overtake infectious diseases, as one of the highest causes of disease-related mortality in children.
It is a day when we come together to continue the work to “Advance Cures and Transform Care” and to make childhood cancer a national and global child health priority.
Much work remains to be done. According to IARC (2015), the reported worldwide incidence of childhood cancer is increasing, from 165,000 new cases annually to 215,000 cases for children 14 years and younger and 85,000 new cases for 15-19 year-olds. Many more remain uncounted and unreported due to a lack of childhood cancer registries in a large number of countries.
While the number of children with cancer is much less compared to global incidence of adult cancers, the number of lives saved is significantly higher; survival rates in high-income countries reach an average of 84% and are steadily improving even in less-resourced areas of the world where there is local and international support.
The ICCD campaign’s ultimate goal and unified message is “Advance Cures and Transform Care”. This message spotlights the inequities and glaring disparity of access to care in most low- and middle-income countries where 80% of children with cancer live. Children and adolescents in Africa, Asia and Latin America and in parts of Eastern and Southern Europe do not yet have access to appropriate treatment including essential medicines and specialized care. Currently, where one lives often determines one’s ability to survive childhood cancer.
The 188 member organizations of Childhood Cancer International (CCI) in 96 countries as the largest non-profit patient support organization for childhood cancer and the 1000 healthcare professionals from 110 countries who are members of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) ask everyone to come together in solidarity to make sure children and adolescents everywhere have the chance to survive cancer and live long, productive and meaningful lives.
“The chance for a cure, the chance to live, should not be an accident of geography. There is nothing scarier than realizing that your child has cancer. However, there is nothing more tragic than knowing that treatment and cure does exist for your particular child’s cancer and with excellent outcomes, BUT… that it is not available for your child. Why? Because your child happens to live in the wrong hemisphere! It is time to take action to stop this cruel atrocity… makes your voices heard on International Childhood Cancer Day and demand from world leaders to ACT and HELP SAVE ALL CHILDREN regardless of where they live!”
(HRH Princess Dina Mired, mother of childhood cancer survivor, President-elect, UICC).
For the next 3 years we will build on a campaign to:
- Build global awareness that more than 300,000 children each year are diagnosed with cancer.
- Build global awareness that many types of childhood cancer are curable if given:
- The right to early and proper diagnosis;
- The right to access life-saving essential medicines;
- The right to appropriate and quality medical treatments, and;
- The right to follow up care, services and sustainable livelihood opportunities for survivors.
- Work towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 3.4 to reduce premature mortality one-third by 2030.
- Too often when it comes to childhood cancer we are faced with a response of “but.”
- “But” there aren’t enough children to develop new drugs;
- “But” the treatment is too expensive;
- “But” there aren’t enough doctors,
- “But” …
On December 13, 2017 a new report from WHO and the World bank revealed that approximately half of the world’s population, including children, do not have access to essential health services and that 800 million people spend at minimum 10 percent of their household income on health-related care. Childhood cancers are often curable but too many children and adolescents have no hope to overcome their disease simply because they were born in a country entrenched in poverty resulting in late diagnosis, lack of access to life-saving essential medicines and appropriate treatment. As childhood cancer organizations, we know only too well that the associated cost to treat a child with cancer can be a burden that too many families simply can’t overcome. We support the need for universal access to essential medicines and healthcare for all children in the world diagnosed with cancer. In order for this to happen, CCI and SIOP agree that making childhood cancer a national and global child health priority is a critical first step towards increasing access to treatment and reducing childhood cancer mortality.