International Childhood Cancer Day is celebrated annually on 15 February to raise awareness and to express support for children and adolescents with cancer, survivors and their families.
Each year, more than 150,000 children are diagnosed with cancer – a disease that touches all regions of the world and impacts countless families and communities. With access to quality care, more than 80% of children with cancer can survive, living full and healthy lives. However, many children in low-income and middle income countries do not receive or complete care, and, as a result, over 90% of childhood cancer deaths occur in low resource settings.
A global response is needed to give every child the best chance of surviving cancer free – to raise awareness, improve access, better understand why and where children are diagnosed with cancer through cancer registries, and offer the best possible treatment, palliative care and support for children and their families. WHO has expanded the WHO Model Lists of Essential Medicines with additional medicines to treat childhood and adult cancers.
This will help promote access to low cost, high impact treatment. WHO has also provided guidance on caring for children with cancer in WHO guidelines on the pharmacological treatment of persisting pain in children with medical illnesses. These initiatives lay the groundwork for broad stakeholder action.
On International Childhood Cancer Day, we pause to recognize contributions from advocates around the world and call for renewed collaboration to care for children with cancer globally.