Increasing survival rates for children with cancer

September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
1 September 2020

September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a moment to reflect on the particular challenges facing children who have cancer and their parents and recall the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer launched by WHO in 2018.

Started in the US in September 1992, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM) is symbolised by a gold ribbon. During this month, cancer organisations involved in supporting children with cancer and their parents mobilise to raise awareness and resources to reduce the burden of cancer for children. 

The incidence of cancer in children is rare relative to that of adults, however it is an important cause of childhood mortality worldwide and a leading cause of death for children in high-income countries and in a growing number of middle-income countries. While there are approximately 300,000 reported cancers cases diagnosed each year in those aged under 19, with a mortality rate of about 26%, it is estimated that the real numbers are much higher as low- and middle-income countries have limited or no cancer registries yet account for some 80% of childhood cancer cases.  

HRH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, President of UICC, has often shared her experience as a mother of cancer patient. Her son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 1997, when there was limited cancer care in Jordan. Recently, she expressed a particular concern and sympathy for patients who are diagnosed with cancer and their families, in the current climate, where the coronavirus pandemic has created additional challenges in dealing with cancer.

When my young son was diagnosed with cancer, we found ourselves facing the multitude of emotions that a cancer diagnosis brings. Shock, sorrow, hope, and stronger than all of the other emotions, the paralyzing fear that we could lose what is most precious (…) I am now fortunate to be the mother of a cancer survivor, and I will continue to work tirelessly to help reduce the global burden of childhood cancers so that fewer children and their families are faced with this terrifying experience.
– HRH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, President, UICC

The Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer

In 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer, with a two-fold ambition: 

  • Increase the prioritisation of childhood cancer in healthcare systems by raising awareness care at national and international levels and scaling up capacity for countries to deliver best practice in childhood cancer.
  • Increase the survival rate of children with cancer to at least 60% by 2030, which would save approximately one million lives.

The Global Initiative is conducted with the support of a host of partners, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the US, the first WHO Collaborating Centre on childhood cancer, which has committed US$ 15 million for the implementation of the initiative.

UICC works with WHO contributed to the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer with respect to planning and advocacy and participation in working group discussions on financing, governance and policy development.

UICC also works with its members to involve key stakeholders to raise awareness on childhood cancer interventions nationally, regionally and globally, and to develop and share advocacy material and messages for policy-makers. The aim is to improve accountability in implementing essential measures to tackle this important public health issue.

Too many children have their lives cut short by cancer, and survival rates in poor countries are scandalously lower than those in wealthy countries. We hope our partnership with St Jude will be a step towards redressing that injustice.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO

Last update: 
Friday 11 September 2020
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