New E700,000 initiative launched to tackle cancer in children in the developing world

11/29/05

14 innovative projects in Bangladesh, Egypt, Honduras, Morocco, the Philippines, Senegal, Tanzania, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Vietnam will receive up to E50,000 each to improve cancer care for children, announce The Lancet Oncology and the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) today (Thursday December 1, 2005).

An estimated 160,000 children around the world are diagnosed with cancer every year. However, the exact number of new cases is probably much higher because these data are not recorded in many countries. Governments in the developing world cannot afford to make childhood cancer a priority in healthcare, and external donations and aid programmes are rarely earmarked for this purpose.

"And yet 80% of all children with cancer live in the developing world", remarks Isabel Mortara, Executive Director of the UICC in Geneva. "In the developed world, overall childhood cancer survival rates are around 75%, but in the developing world almost two-thirds of children with cancer die. Many children are never diagnosed at all, many are diagnosed too late, and when a diagnosis is made the treatment options may be limited. Relatively little money could, however, make important inroads into this situation."

The 14 projects will receive funding as part of the launch of the UICC's World Cancer Campaign. The My Child Matters initiative aims to improve dissemination of information about cancer in children, to improve early diagnosis and access to care, and to strengthen support for children with cancer and their families in the developing world. The projects encompass a huge range of ideas, from provision of psychosocial and nutritional support to the setting up of satellite clinics through the internet to try to make treatment more accessible.

In total, 58 applications were received. "The standard of the proposals was extremely high; it is indeed a pity that we cannot fund them all", notes Franco Cavalli, Chair of the UICC Childhood Cancer Campaign Advisory Committee, the group that selected the recipients. He adds that the projects were chosen for their feasibility, potential benefits, accountability, and sustainability, and the "possibility of them serving as models for other countries".

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