As President of the Board of Trustees of Childhood Cancer International, it is with great honor that I acknowledge so many caring individuals who are committed to serve children and adolescents with cancer and their families around the world. For many of us, our lives have been personally touched with the diagnosis of our own children with cancer. Globally, it is estimated that there are more than 413,000 cases (diagnosed and undiagnosed) of childhood cancer each year. Worldwide, it is estimated that 328,000 children (diagnosed and undiagnosed) die from cancer each year. That makes childhood cancer the leading non-communicable disease killer of children around the world, regardless of where they live. Some of these are our own children; some are children whom we serve through our organizations. My hope is that time will bring healing, and the hope that there will come a day when the thought of these precious children will bring a smile to our lips before it brings a tear to our eye.
As we work together we must always keep focused on the knowledge that as individuals, member organizations and together as CCI, we continue to serve children and adolescents with cancer and their families around the world to the best of our abilities. We raise awareness, increase access to care, advocate to the highest levels of government regionally, nationally and internationally, create coalitions with other key stakeholders and provide support to hundreds of thousands of children fighting this disease, survivors and their families. Together, we have become the largest childhood cancer grassroots organization in the world, all strongly committed to advancing cure & transforming care.
As the global voice of the parents and families of children with cancer, and in official relations with the World Health Organization, CCI is uniquely positioned to identify the needs of children diagnosed with cancer from those who have “walked the walk.” In partnership with the WHO, our voices are strengthened as we advocate together to leadership around the world to ensure childhood cancer is a local, national and global child health priority. As stated by Dr. Tedros, WHO Director-General, “Civil society partners are unique and powerful voices of the people that WHO serves. Their valuable resources, knowledge and close community connections can help WHO ensure our impact is much greater than when we act alone.”
The continuing status of maintaining official relations with the WHO is governed by the Framework of Engagement and the creation of a 3-year collaborative work plan with agreed upon objectives and activities. The WHO-CCI’s plan includes ongoing in-country work focused on the following four major areas that greatly impact childhood cancer in target countries.
Palliative Care and Pain management: using the WHO guidelines to train parents in its use;
Nutrition: development of a tool and programs to better understand childhood cancer nutritional gaps/needs;
Psychosocial support: establishment of parent and caretaker support groups globally to enhance support for parents of children with cancer;
Advocacy: collaboration of key childhood cancer messaging and advocacy efforts including common global messaging during International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD).
Each year, on February 15th—International Childhood Cancer Day—CCI works alongside our members and international partners to raise awareness of the unique needs of childhood cancer. Materials are developed that highlight the survival disparity of children with cancer in low-middle income countries (LMICs) vs. high-income countries (HICs). These assets are distributed to CCI members around the world and translated into different languages for circulation to families, governments, civil society and international development institutions, encouraging them to prioritize childhood cancer. Together we work towards the WHO vision to save an additional one million children’s lives by 2030 through the attainment of a 60% global childhood cancer survival rate. This goal is to be accomplished through increased prioritization of childhood cancer at the global and national levels and expansion of the capacity of countries to deliver best practices in childhood cancer care.
Through CCI’s enhanced engagement with WHO, CCI continues to strengthen our relationships with our collaborative partners including the IAEA, SIOP, UICC, NCD Child, ICPCN (International Children’s Palliative Care Network), the Maruzza Foundation and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Working together, we raise awareness, advocate to government and mobilize resources to benefit children with cancer around the world.
Through CCI members and parents around the world, we have created and led a global childhood cancer movement and our key message is the reminder of the value of ensuring that parents are engaged as equal partners in the work that we continue to do together through the WHO Global Childhood Cancer Initiative – whether they be from high income or low to middle income countries. It is parents of children with cancer who have “walked this walk” and it is the inclusion of parents in the work that continues to be done that will lead to the reduction of childhood cancer deaths in all UN member states and the attainment of a 60% global childhood cancer survival rate by 2030.
On behalf of the CCI Board of Trustees, I want to express my deepest gratitude for the endless and selfless work that is accomplished by each of you on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of children with cancer, survivors and their families who you serve each and every day. Each CCI member organization has a reach to hundreds, and thousands and even tens of thousands of parents and families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer. Together, with our partners, we can save an additional one million children’s lives in the next decade.