International Childhood Cancer Day 2023

Categories: Featured and Opinion.

International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) is a global collaborative campaign to raise awareness about childhood cancer and its unique challenges while showing support for children and adolescents with cancer, survivors and their families worldwide. The 15th of February is marked as International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) to highlight the importance of community participation and support in the fight against childhood cancer in every country around the world.

Did you know that every three minutes, a child dies of cancer? Cancer is a leading cause of death for children and adolescents around the world and approximately 400,000 children aged 0 to 19 years old are diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year. The most common categories of childhood cancers include cancers of the blood (leukaemia and lymphoma), brain tumours and solid tumours, such as neuroblastoma and Wilms tumour.

In high-income countries, more than 80% of children with cancer survive, but in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) only about 20% survive. Even in high-income settings, childhood cancers represent a leading cause of children’s death and long-term morbidity in survivors. Most childhood cancers can be cured with a combination of chemotherapies and other treatments including surgery and radiotherapy. Childhood cancer treatment can be cost-effective in all country-income settings.

Avoidable deaths from childhood cancers in LMICs result from a lack of diagnosis, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis; obstacles to accessing care; abandonment of treatment; death from toxicity; and higher rates of relapse (disease recurs). Improving outcomes for children with cancer requires early and accurate diagnosis followed by effective treatment.

Cancer constitutes 5.2% of the palliative care needs in children. The aim of paediatric palliative care is to achieve the best quality of life for the child or young person and their family. Good palliative care encompasses the patient and their family as the centre of the care and addresses all aspects of their needs – physical, psychological, spiritual, cultural and social. In the vast majority of cases, childhood cancers are not related to the child’s lifestyle, but there may be some (as of yet) unconfirmed risk factors. That is why it is quite complicated to prevent them.

The International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) aims to achieve the best quality of life and care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions, their families and carers worldwide, by raising awareness of children’s palliative care, lobbying for the global development of children’s palliative care services, and sharing expertise, skills and knowledge.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners are working to increase the survival rate of children with cancer globally to at least 60% by 2030 while reducing their suffering and improving their quality of life. They aim to achieve this by increasing countries’ capacity to provide quality services for children with cancer, and by increasing prioritization of childhood cancer at global, regional and national levels. It is planned that support will have been provided to more than 50 countries through the Initiative by the end of 2023.

How to participate at an international level:

  • You are called to start a conversation with your stakeholders including patients, families, and health care team.
  • Create an ICCD 2023 event or activity any day in February or March in your setting or in continuation of your previous ICCD events.
  • Advocate for action! Write to active organizations and treatment centres in 3-5 countries in your region (according to the six WHO regions) and inspire them to host an ICCD 2023 event engaging important stakeholders at a political level such as the Ministry of Health and WHO Regional Offices.

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