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GLOBAL CANCER INITIATIVES

20 CANCER CONTROL 2021

countries. NGOs are taking bold steps to bridge this financial

gap between patient and treatment, by raising funds to pay for

care, involving kind-hearted individuals, community, corporate

organisations, and government in making sure that no child has

to suffer cancer without access to care.

We know a cancer diagnosis is a toll beyond just the physical

and financial, but also impacting the psycho-social aspects of

the child's life, confusing, and traumatic for patients and family

alike. NGOs support this process and help these families get

through by creating support group programmes.

Advocacy programmes in rural and urban communities,

media awareness (TV and radio), and social media have also

been effective tools used by NGOs across Africa region

especially in Nigeria to combat childhood cancer. For the SIOP

Global Mapping Programme data on African NGOs supporting

childhood cancer, see Table 3.

Importance of the SIOP Global Mapping programme

Professor Eric Bouffet, past president of SIOP, Director of the

Paediatric Neuro-Oncology Program, University of Toronto,

Professor of Paediatrics Academic of Lyon, France

Many statements on the situation of paediatric oncology in the

world start with the following comment: "Over 80% of children

with cancer live in low and middle-income countries where

survival rates are much lower than high-income countries"(24).

However, although this statement is both heart-breaking and

compelling, it is difficult to figure out the exact situation of these

countries, the reasons for the poor outcomes and the solutions

to improve survival. The SIOP Global Mapping of Africa has

been an eye-opening experience, showing for example that in

15 countries, there was no trained paediatric oncologist or that

the provision of chemotherapy was appropriate in only half of

the continent (9). The collection of such detailed information

offers many advantages, and in particular an opportunity for

advocacy and targeted interventions aiming at improving

training for the treating teams and access to care for patients.

These societies also play a social role by providing support

to families of children with cancer through advocacy for the

cause of children with cancer. They are major players in the

implementation and development of the WHO GICC

The SIOP Global Mapping Programme showed that only 13

African countries have a dedicated society (see Table 2); eight

dedicated to paediatric oncology (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia,

Cameron, Congo, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa) and five for

general oncology (Benin, Kenya, Mauritius, Uganda, Tanzania).

However, few of them actively communicate on social

networks through a website or other communication tools. It

is clear that the development of paediatric oncology societies

in Africa should be encouraged as a driver for the development

of the discipline in a country and as an essential partner for the

implementation of the WHO global initiative.

It should be noted since the time of the survey, some

countries (e.g., Ghana) have formed a national paediatric

oncology professional society as part of their activities to focus

the country to implement the WHO GICC.

Importance of non-profit organisations (NGOs) for

childhood cancer across Africa

Korede Akindele, Head of Programmes, The Dorcas Cancer

Foundation, Lagos, Nigeria

Cancer is a bully. Much worse than the playground bully, cancer

does not try to steal children's lunch money. Cancer tries to

steal their futures.

The role of NGOs cannot be over-emphasized when it

comes to caring for cancer in Africa. Many of these NGOs

such as The Dorcas Cancer Foundation have been at the

forefront of awareness and advocacy mainly to ensure

that children are brought in for treatment early, ultimately

reducing both morbidities, and mortality related to cancer.

Financial constraints and challenges have also been major

obstacles. Cancer treatment is undeniably expensive, more so

in a resource-poor setting like Nigeria and many other African

Table 2: National paediatric oncology societies data from 109 facilities across 47/54 African countries from SIOP Global Mapping programme

National paediatric Responses

oncology society

Have society Don't have one Don't know No answer

Answers (109 hospitals) 23 (21%) 11 (10%) 2 (2%) 73 (67%) 10 (9%)

Note: Totals may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Table 3: Non-profit organizations data of 109 facilities across 47/54 African countries from SIOP Global Mapping programme

Non-profit organisations that Responses

support children with cancer

treated at your hospital?

Number of non-profit organizations 1 2 or more None Don't know No answer

Answers (109 hospitals) 48 (44%) 25 (23%) 4 (4%) 3 (3%) 29 27%

Note: Totals may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

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