High level meeting in UAE to improve global access to essential medicines for children with cancer

Categories: Leadership.

The International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN’s) Director of Advocacy, Busi Nkosi, has recently returned from representing ICPCN at a meeting held in Sharjah, UAE, looking at ways to improve access to global essential medicines for all children with cancer. 

The 1.5 day meeting was hosted by the Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP), Sharjah UAE under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi and took the form of an international, multi-sectoral Pediatric Oncology Roundtable to Transform Access to Global Essentials (known as PORTAGE).  

The impetus for the meeting was the recognition of the mounting role that paediatric cancer will play in global childhood mortality, leading to an imperative to take collective action aimed at improving global access to cancer medicines for children. Representatives from the global childhood cancer community, international health governance institutions, international development institutions, civil society, corporate partners, the academy and the pharmaceutical industry were present at the high level meeting.

Giving background to the meeting, it was noted that in high income countries (HICs), 80% of children with cancer are cured. However in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where the vast majority of children with cancer are found, the cure rates are far lower. Access to essential medicines is one of the key determinants of childhood cancer survival globally. 

Speaking to ehospice after her presentation on the contribution of palliative care in the treatment of children with cancer and essential medicines for this field, Busi Nkosi said, “It was important for ICPCN to be represented at this important, high level meeting to increase access to treatment for children with cancer, particularly in low and middle income countries. Other stakeholders included academia, pharmaceutical representatives, oncologists, foundations and non-governmental organizations.” 

She explained that various options were explored and this will continue as stakeholders go back home to look at the feasibility of these options. 

“Talks will continue to take place until a viable option is found.”