International Childhood Cancer Day
The global estimate of new annual childhood cancer cases is 175000– 250 000 per year. However, it is largely underestimated because of the lack of cancer registries in a large majority of low middle income countries (LMICs), prevalent under diagnosis, misdiagnosis and/or under-registration of LMIC children with cancer.
Cancer represents the leading cause of non-accidental death among children and adolescents in high-income countries (HICs) and according to current limited statistics one child dies of cancer every three minutes. Experts and researches estimate that majority of children with cancer reside in LMICs. In LMIC, where access to health care is limited and very challenging, survival rates are as low as 10-20%, while in HIC survival rates can be as high as 80 – 90%. The reasons for this significant inequity are: lack of information about early signs and symptoms of childhood cancer, late diagnosis, misdiagnosis, absence /weak referral systems, difficult access to care and treatment, costs of treatment and medicines, weak health care systems and discontinuance of treatment.
Unfortunately the battle is rarely over even for the kids who managed to survive the cancer. Over 60% of long-term childhood cancer survivors have a chronic illness as a consequence of the treatment they received and over 25% have a severe or life-threatening illness.
A recent study by a leading institution in the USA revealed that by the time survivors are 45 years old, because of the cancer treatments they had as kids, more than 95% of them will have a chronic health problem while 80% will have severe or life-threatening conditions. Therefore we all need to realize that the future of our nation depends on willingness to invest in the health and well-being of our children now, before it becomes too late.
The International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) campaign is a call to act now. ICCD is a global collaborative campaign with one ultimate goal:
Better Access to Care for Children and Adolescents with Cancer, Everywhere.
It starts on February 15th and lasts all the way to September (Childhood Cancer Awareness month for Australia, Canada, Ireland, UK, USA etc.). ICCD was first launched in 2002 and till now the ICCD has generated the support of many global networks and leading institutions. Today it is a global collaborative campaign with aim to raise awareness about childhood cancer, and to express support for children and adolescents with cancer, survivors and their families. The day promotes increased appreciation and deeper understanding of issues and challenges impacting childhood cancer and the survivors. It also spotlights the need for more equitable and better access to treatment and care for all children with cancer, everywhere. Children and adolescents are the heart of every community and nation. It is our responsibility to ensure that they are able to live life to the fullest and to reach their full potentials.
ICCD encourages the whole community to strongly advocate and demand for the BEST for children and adolescents with cancer:
- Better access to childhood cancer treatment and care;
- Enhanced availability and access to affordable and/or free essential childhood cancer medications, including those for pain treatment;
- Social protection through inclusion of childhood cancer in social health insurance or universal health coverage;
- Stronger pediatric palliative care;
- Targeted, less toxic treatments developed and approved, leading to decreased chronic late effects for survivors of childhood cancers