The American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO), the sole U.S. member of Childhood Cancer International (CCI) provided its overwhelming support today for the World Health Organization's (WHO) announcement of its new global initiative to address the disparity between childhood cancer survival in low-middle versus high-income countries. The announcement came at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly's side-meeting on childhood cancer which was organized by the Missions of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, El Salvador, the Republic of Moldova, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Republic of Philippines and the Russian Federation.
Funded through a generous donation from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer partners with national and international stakeholders including CCI to provide leadership and technical assistance to support governments in building and sustaining high-quality childhood cancer programs.
Each year, more than 300,000 children ages birth to 19 years are diagnosed with cancer around the world. Approximately 8 in 10 of these children live in low and middle-income countries where their survival rate is often near 20%. This is in stark contrast to high-income countries, where cure rates exceed 80% for many common childhood cancers.
How urgent is this global initiative? "Childhood cancer is the number one non-communicable disease (NCD) cause of death in children globally," said Ruth Hoffman, ACCO's Chief Executive Officer, and President of Childhood Cancer International. "Childhood cancer has no borders. Why should childhood cancer treatments and cures? Even in the U.S. the majority of children with cancer continue to be treated with old drugs that were developed in the 1950's, '60's and 70's. These drugs cost very little yet are too often unavailable to the majority of children with cancer in the world who happen to live in low to middle income countries. With increased access to essential childhood cancer medicines and radiation, children can be cured of their disease regardless of where they live in the world." Ms. Hoffman will continue to represent the voice of the families of children with cancer as a member of the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer.
The target goal of the WHO Global Childhood Cancer Initiative is to achieve at least 60% survival for all children with cancer by 2030. This represents an approximate doubling of the current cure rate and will save an additional one million children's lives over the next decade. The objectives are to:
- Increase political commitment and capacity of countries to deliver best practices in childhood cancer diagnosis and treatment;
- Support governments to develop high-quality cancer centers as well as develop standards and tools to guide the planning and implementation of interventions for early diagnosis, treatment and palliative and survivorship care inclusive of the needs of childhood cancers;
- Improve access to affordable essential child cancer medicines and technologies;
- Support governments to safeguard families of children with cancer from social isolation and financial ruin as a result of cancer care;
- Prioritize cancer as a child health priority and increase available funding at the national and global levels.
This initiative is founded on the World Health Assembly's resolution Cancer Prevention and Control through an Integrated Approach (WHA70.12), which urges governments and WHO to accelerate action to achieve the targets specified in the Global Action Plan and 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development to reduce premature mortality from cancer.
Actions to increase childhood cancer survival today represent effective and tangible steps as part of the broader fight against non-communicable diseases - steps that will catalyze global efforts to transform childhood cancer outcomes worldwide and ultimately save many more lives of children, now and for years to come.
The American Childhood Cancer Organization was founded in Washington, D.C. in 1970 by parents of children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer to advocate for their needs and support research so every child survives and leads a long and healthy life. The U.S. largest grassroots organization at the forefront of the crucial battle against childhood cancer, the ACCO is dedicated to shaping policy, supporting research, raising awareness and providing educational resources and innovative programs to children with cancer, survivors and their families. Since its inception, the ACCO has helped support more than half a million families affected by childhood cancer. ACCO now has 35 local ACCO affiliates known as Founding Hope chapters throughout the United States. www.acco.org.
Childhood Cancer International (CCI) was founded in 1994 and is recognized as the largest patient support organization for childhood cancer in the world. Comprised of 188 member organizations in 98 countries, CCI represents the voice of children and adolescents with cancer, childhood cancer survivors and their families globally. Operating as a non-State Actor in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), CCI engages with the WHO as well as international development organizations, policy-makers, civil society organizations, research and medical professionals to advocate for the rights of children and adolescents with cancer and prioritize childhood cancer as an integral part of the local, national and global child health and development agenda. www.childhoodcancerinternational.org