International Childhood Cancer Day

  • International Childhood Cancer Day

What is International Childhood Cancer Day?

International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) is a global collaborative campaign to raise awareness about childhood cancer, and to express support for children and adolescents with cancer, the 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.

The next International Childhood Cancer Day will be on 15th February 2021.

Why support International Childhood Cancer Day?

Of the estimated 300,000 children who will get cancer each year, 80% live in low- middle income countries (LMIC) and have as little as 10-30% chance of cure (low and middle income respectively), compared to 80% or more in high income countries. Cancer in children is increasing in incidence as communicable disease deaths are reducing worldwide.

Why is it so difficult to close the gap in childhood cancer?

There are multiple reasons for this huge disparity between high income and low and middle income countries: late or missed diagnosis, lack of diagnostic facilities, lack of trained staff to manage such complex diseases, and high rates of treatment refusal and abandonment.

One area which has proven very difficult to overcome is the lack of accessibility to a reliable, consistent, and affordable drug supply for potentially curative treatment.

Most resource-limited countries depend on importation. Normally, government health departments will take overall responsibility for importation, or will commission a specific pharmacy or university hospital to import cancer drugs. The licence to import such drugs usually requires annual renewal, which is often not completed as the majority of drugs are seen as ‘niche’ drugs with a small market and low profit margins.

As a direct result, the rates of treatment refusal/abandonment in many developing countries range from less than 5% (where the state picks up all or some of the cost of drugs) to more than 50% where families bear the total burden. Although cost is not the only reason for refusal of therapy, it is a major factor.

How does International Childhood Cancer Day make an impact?

ICCD encourages individuals and organisations to stand up and speak out for kids with cancer, survivors of cancer, and their families. It is a call for solidarity in action: joining voices, connecting forces, and bringing together different initiatives that respond to the needs of children and adolescents with cancer, their families and the survivors.   

To find out more about ICCD and the ways in which you can help, visit the International Society of Paediatric Oncology, SIOP Europe.

or find out how you can get involved with World Child Cancer to make a difference for children with cancer around the world.

About the author

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Joseph Dixon

Joe Dixon is the Programmes Manager for World Child Cancer and regularly visits Bangladesh, Ghana, Myanmar and Cameroon.