The presidents of the GFAOP, Franco-African pediatric oncology group, and of the Soleterre Foundation signed an agreement on November 5, 20 in Paris which will mark the first step towards the creation of a strategic alliance aimed at coordinating and strengthening efforts and resources to meet the challenge of pediatric cancers in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Africa.
WHO estimates that out of the 400,000 cases of pediatric cancer diagnosed each year worldwide, most come from low- and middle-income countries, where survival rates are still extremely low: the rate varies depending on the type of cancer and region, but an estimate based on a Lancet Oncology microsimulation model puts the 5-year net survival after diagnosis at 8.1% for East Africa.
There are many reasons for the very low survival rate in Africa and in low- and middle-income countries, but one of the main reasons is that very often cancers go undiagnosed or are too late: it is currently estimated that ”one in two pediatric cancer in sub-Saharan Africa goes undetected due to limitations in the health system, including difficulties in accessing treatment and diagnosis, as well as the referral process between peripheral facilities and central hospitals.
A study commissioned by Lancet Oncology predicts that between 2020 and 2050 there will be 13.7 million new cases of pediatric cancer and that, unless there are significant changes in health systems, 44% of these cases will be diagnosed. This means that, based on current death rates, 11.1 million children will die of cancer, and that 9.3 million of them (84.1% of the total) will be children living in low or middle-income countries.
It is, therefore, a priority to form strategic alliances between the various international organizations working on the issue: only a multidisciplinary and networked intervention will make it possible to act effectively on the inequalities that still hamper access to treatment and early diagnosis of cancer in women and children in Africa. The strategic alliance between the Soleterre Foundation and the GFAOP is a step in this direction.