According to a report released today at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the My Child Matters program launched by the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) and sanofi-aventis is significantly improving pediatric cancer care in developing countries.
While in industrialized countries nearly 80% of children treated for cancer will survive, this survival rate drops to 20% and even 10% in developing countries where access to information, early detection and treatment are often not available. Yet, most childhood cancers can be cured when detected early and treated without delay.
"With such a marked disparity in survival rates between industrialized and developing countries, the need for programs like My Child Matters is pressing" says Dr Franco Cavalli, the President of UICC. "The program raises awareness that childhood cancers respond to treatment and can often be cured. Equally important, the program promotes innovation by facilitating communication within the international oncology community."
My Child Matters encourages hospitals and NGO's to develop pragmatic approaches to improve awareness, early diagnosis, access to care and pain control. The overall goal is better management of the physical, social and cultural aspects of cancer for children and their families.
In December 2005, 14 pilot projects were selected. Nine hundred health professionals have participated in training sessions on childhood cancer, and more than 4,000 children and 2,100 families have benefited from these programs.
The one-year outcome analysis shows improvement in patient care infrastructure, public and professional education, early detection and access to care. In addition, psychosocial support and patient follow-up rates increased while treatment drop-out rates decreased.
"Eighty percent of the world's children with cancer live in low-income developing countries where misdiagnosis, late diagnosis, lack of access and abandonment of treatment are almost insurmountable obstacles major to improving outcomes," said Dr. Raul Ribeiro, co-author of the report and director of the International Outreach Program, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "Our analysis confirms that modest and targeted financial support as well as external mentoring can help institutions in developing countries build the capability to provide quality pediatric cancer care."
Based on the program's success and the continued need for help, 12 additional projects have been selected in December 2006. My Child Matters encompasses now 26 projects in 16 countries including Bangladesh, Bolivia, Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Senegal, Tanzania, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam.
"When we created this humanitarian sponsoring program in 2003, our intention was to provide concrete solutions for reducing disparities in the treatment of childhood cancer in developing countries" said Jean-Francois Dehecq, President of sanofi-aventis. "The results presented today at ASCO are extremely encouraging. They show that, thanks to a spirit of initiative and solidarity, it is possible to generate a collaboration mindset among international, national and local institutions that can drive progress in countries where pediatric oncology is still emerging."
Reporter's Note: The ASCO Communications Cancer Committee selected the My Child Matters one-year outcome analysis to be included in the press program.
The International Union Against Cancer (UICC) is the only international non-governmental organization that is dedicated solely to the global control of cancer. Its vision is of a world where cancer is eliminated as a major life threatening disease for future generations. With over 270 member organizations in more than 80 countries, UICC is a resource for action and a voice for change.
Sanofi-aventis is one of the world leaders in the pharmaceutical industry, ranking number one in Europe. Backed by a world-class R&D organisation, sanofi-aventis is developing leading positions in seven major therapeutic areas: cardiovascular, thrombosis, oncology, metabolic diseases, central nervous system, internal medicine and vaccines. Sanofi-aventis is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).
My Child Matters Advisory Steering Committee, list of members:
Dr Franco Cavalli (UICC President; Director, Istituto Oncologico della Svizzera Italiana), Dr Tim Eden (President, International Society of Paediatric Oncology), Dr Joe Harford (Director of International Programs, National Cancer Institute, USA), Dr Jean Lemerle (President, French-African Paediatric Oncology Group), Dr Ian Magrath (President, International Network for Cancer Treatment and Research), Dr Raul Ribeiro (Director, International Outreach Program, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, USA), Dr Helene Sancho-Garnier (Head, Prevention and Epidemiology Department, Epidaure, France), Dr Eva Steliarova-Foucher (IARC/International Agency for Research on Cancer), Dr Isabelle Tabah-Fisch (Oncology Senior Medical Director, sanofi- aventis), Geoff Thaxter (Vice President, International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organizations).
List of 26 projects in 16 participating countries:
1. A home and a palliative care unit for destitute children -- S Choudhury, ASHIC Foundation, Dhaka
2. Raising awareness, increasing early detection and treatment of childhood cancers -- MA Mannan, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka
1. Learning to grow in special circumstances -- Lucia Parejas, AFANIC foundation, Santa Cruz
2. Free leukaemia diagnosis for Bolivian children -- Ricardo Amaru Lucana, School of Medicine, Major de San Andres University, La Paz
3. Fighting childhood cancers and increasing early diagnosis in paediatric oncology -- Dr Yolanda Ernst, Instituto del Oriente Boliviano, Santa Cruz
1. Increasing awareness and reinforcing social well-being in children with cancer -- A Omar, Fakkous Cancer Center, Fakkous.
2. Inform and educate to improve patient management in paediatric oncology -- SA Hadi, National Cancer Institute, Cairo
1. Fighting treatment dropout in paediatric oncology patients through the creation of multi-regional satellite clinics -- L Fu, Hospital Escuela Tegucigalpa
1. Childhood leukaemia and retinoblastoma early detection and reference treatment campaign -- Dr Melissa S Luwia, Indonesian Cancer Foundation,
2. Programme for early detection and prompt treatment of retinoblastoma in Indonesia -- Rita S Sitorus, Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia, Jakarta Pusat
1. Raising awareness of the prevalence of Burkitt's lymphoma to increase early detection, prompt treatment and the identification of associated environmental and familial factors -- Prof Nicholas Anthony Othieno Aninya, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Nairobi
1. Improving medical management and psychosocial support for children with cancer in Mali -- Dr Togo Boubacar, Gabriel Toure Hospital, Bamako
1. National campaign to increase early diagnosis of childhood cancers -- FM Alaoui, La Maison de l'avenir, Rabat
2. Pain management in children with cancer -- M Harif, Moroccan Society of Haematology and Paediatric Oncology, Casablanca
1. Survey of paediatric oncology in Peru. Proposal to set up a medical children's home -- Dr Gustavo Sarria Bardales, INEN (National Institute of Cancer Patients), Lima
2. Improving care and quality of life of children with cancer -- Nelly Isabel Therese Huamani and Carlos Enrique Preciado Huapaya, ALDIMI, Lima
1. Extending access to treatment and improving care of childhood retinoblastoma and leukaemia -- J Lecciones, Philippine Children's Medical Center, Quezon City
1. Improvement of diagnostic services for children with cancer -- Doina Mihaila, St Mary's Emergency Children's Hospital, Iasi
2. Assessing childhood cancer burden in Romania and suggesting possible improvements -- Adela Ratiu, Institute of Oncology "Prof Dr Alex
3. Building a future for Romanian children living with cancer -- Olga Rodica Cridland, PAVEL Association, Bucharest
1. Setting up a paediatric oncology continuous care unit -- C Moreira, Hopital le Dantec, Dakar
1. Extending access to treatment for childhood Burkitt's lymphoma -- T Ngoma, Ocean Road Cancer Institute, Dar es Salaam
1. Immunocytochemical diagnosis of leukaemias and malignant tumours in children -- D Gluzman, National academy of Sciences of the Ukraine,Kiev
1. Nutritional and psychosocial support for paediatric oncology patients and their families --C Machuca, Oncology Institute, Dr Luis Razetti,
2. Improving the safety of parenteral nutrition by the creation of a special unit and the training of healthcarers -- C Zappi, Children's Hospital, JM de los Rios, Caracas
1. Programmes for prevention, care and support of childhood cancers in Vietnamese provinces -- N. Ba Duc, National Cancer Institute, Hanoi.