In the developed world one of the enormous medical success stories of the last 50 years is the improved chance of survival for children with cancer. Today 80% of children with cancer in developed countries will survive. In the developing world the picture is very different, where survival rates can be as low as 10%. Thousands of children are dying unnecessarily when they could be treated or cured.
There are a number of reasons why survival rates for children with cancer in the developing world are so low.
The main challenges are:
- A shortage of trained healthcare professionals who can diagnose childhood cancer and give the best care.
- A general lack of awareness and understanding of childhood cancer in communities, so people are not able to recognise the early warning signs and symptoms.
- A commonly held mis-belief that childhood cancers can't be treated or cured.
- Often childhood cancer is not diagnosed or is diagnosed too late for effective treatment to take place. A large percentage of children with cancer never get to a specialist centre to receive care, treatment or pain relief.
- A lack of healthcare resources in countries which are poor and struggling to develop.
- Little or no priority for childhood cancer services due to other pressures and priorities.
- Many families cannot afford the treatment, which is often not covered by local healthcare providers or insurance schemes.
- This and other financial pressures, such as being away from home for a long time and travelling great distances to reach treatment centres, are huge barriers to children receiving and completing the care they need.
Simple and cost-effective interventions can be used to break down many of these barriers, and improve access to quality care and support for families.
Read more about our programmes to address these issues in How We Work.