Treating the gaps in childhood cancer care
TORONTO — More than 100,000 children die each year from cancer, yet 80 per cent of childhood cancers are treatable with existing interventions. Children living in low‐and-middle-income countries (LMICs), often with poor access to health services, make up the majority of these deaths. However, with no reliable data on the burden of childhood cancers in these countries, national governments and agencies cannot act. Today, 45 experts from 16 countries will convene at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto to undertake a comprehensive analysis to develop an investment case for funding management and control of childhood cancer as part of The Lancet Oncology’s Commission on Sustainable Paediatric Cancer Care to launch in 2018.
“It’s imperative that oncologists, institutions, and governments around the world work together to ensure children with cancer are afforded the same opportunity to survive no matter where they live,” says Dr. Sumit Gupta, Commission co-lead and leader of the Policy and Economics Research in Childhood Cancer (PERCC) Unit at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). “This Commission brings together experts from around the world with one goal: to build the evidence needed to convince governments to implement and scale up effective interventions for childhood cancer worldwide.”
The three-day meeting will include all members of the Commission working groups who are focused on (1) establishing the current and future burden of childhood cancer; (2) looking at the gaps in the availability of childhood cancer services; (3) determining the cost of providing childhood cancer services; (4) bringing together all of this above data to make the final investment framework models that will be published by The Lancet Oncology in 2018.
“The Commission will provide not only a blueprint for how to scale up pediatric cancer care treatment of children, but also what the associated costs are likely to be,” says Commission co-lead Dr. Lindsay Frazier, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, and Institute Physician at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI).
While 80 per cent of children with cancer in countries like Canada and the United States can be cured, only 20 per cent of children with cancer in some LMICs will survive. The Lancet Commission on Sustainable Paediatric Cancer Care aims to build the case to close these gaps.
“With pragmatic information on cost vs. benefit, we believe that ministers of health and finance will be able to make informed decisions on exactly which services prioritize and how to move efficiently to the next level of service,” adds Dr. Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, Commission co-lead and International Outreach Program Director and Executive Vice President of St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Commission co-lead, Dr. Rifat Atun, Professor of Global Health Systems and Director of the Health Systems Cluster at Harvard University adds, “It is an audacious goal, but we have high hopes, that through the combined expertise, we will really change the likelihood that a child, born anywhere in the world, can reasonably expect cure.”