St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has established a five-year collaboration with World Health Organization aimed at transforming cancer care worldwide to cure at least 60 percent of children with six of the most common types of cancer by 2030.
This collaboration seeds a global initiative that will bring together stakeholders in childhood cancer from around the world to increase access to care for children with cancer, enhance quality of care by developing national centers of excellence and regional satellites, and influence the integration of childhood cancer into national policies to ensure the greatest chance of survival for all affected children.
Each year, approximately 300,000 children and adolescents are expected to be diagnosed with cancer. About 8 in 10 of these children live in low- and middle-income countries, where cure rates are often estimated at only 20 percent. This is in stark contrast to higher-income countries, where cure rates exceed 80 percent, largely because of the medical advances and specialized multidisciplinary care for children with cancer established over the past 50 years. This divide in survival rates between higher-income countries and low- and middle-income countries is among the greatest disparities in health outcomes worldwide.
Limited access to high-quality, affordable medicines and the risk of financial catastrophe from out-of-pocket payments are hallmarks of the childhood cancer challenge many countries face.
Bringing together the strengths of St. Jude and WHO to expand services, capacities and partnerships for tackling childhood cancer, this collaboration provides a platform to support in-country implementation efforts for childhood cancer control. The effort combines St. Jude expert technical support and a designated programmatic investment of US$15 million with WHO authority working with governments and leaders across health systems regionally and globally. Activities will include supporting clinical care for the most vulnerable children, ensuring all children with cancer can access high-quality medicines and technologies, and strengthening training programs by developing centers of excellence. For a sustainable, global initiative, this collaboration hopes to catalyze a broader effort that allows vital inputs from in-country leaders and organizations dedicated to improving outcomes for children with cancer.
"St. Jude was founded on the idea that no child should die in the dawn of life," said James R. Downing, MD, St. Jude president and CEO. "While we have been able to advance this vision for many children with cancer, the bitter reality is that in most places around the world, 4 out of 5 children with cancer are still dying of their disease. We have the ability to change that. This initiative will provide the tools and resources to shape how childhood cancer is addressed globally, encouraging national health systems to make childhood cancer a priority and dramatically improving cure rates for children with cancer."