International Childhood Cancer Day is a global collaborative campaign to raise awareness about childhood cancer, and to express support for children and adolescents with cancer, the survivors and their families. The day promotes increased appreciation and deeper understanding of issues and challenges impacting childhood cancer and the survivors. It also spotlights the need for more equitable and better access to treatment and care for all children with cancer, everywhere.
We believe that children and families faced with a cancer diagnosis should be provided with the very best care possible and should never have to walk this difficult journey alone. They must be provided with the support of people who fully comprehend the challenges they will face and are trained to do everything possible to ease the burden the disease bestows on the affected children and those that love them.
Through ignorance and lack of training, there are still critical gaps in the palliative care response to children with cancer. Too many medical professionals hold on to the mythical belief that palliative care is only appropriate when all curative measures have failed, leading to patients and families missing out on the comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate care that a palliative team provides, irrespective of the outcome of the treatment.
ICPCN strongly recommends the following:
- That a palliative care team be introduced to the child and the family at the earliest possible time after diagnosis. Doing this ensures that the child’s quality of life is enhanced through adequate pain and symptom management and that they are provided with relevant support and therapies to help them come to terms with their illness and its possible outcome. Palliative care also addresses any social, psychological and spiritual issues the child and family members face at this difficult time.
- Children with cancer should be provided with the best possible treatment to ensure that their pain and distressing symptoms are addressed. Barriers to this can include the stigma which still exists with prescribing, dispensing and using opiates for children. A concerted effort needs to be made to overcome the stigma that is associated with the use of opioids in the treatment of pain in children. In addition, the lack of pain relief medications, such as morphine and opioids, in paediatric formulations needs to be addressed.
- Health authorities around the world recognise the value of palliative care in the treatment of children with cancer. Referral to a children’s palliative care team should become a standard response to a child’s cancer diagnosis.
- That children’s palliative care be integrated into all public health systems, that specific policies be developed, that funds are allocated and relevant training is provided. We believe that this will ensure that a child with a cancer diagnosis is given the best chance to experience a better quality of life throughout the duration of their illness, and, should treatment fail to cure the disease, that the child and family will be provided with compassionate and qualified support at the end of life and during the period of bereavement.
ACT NOW FOR KIDS WITH CANCER
Childhood Cancer International is set to launch a global campaign which starts on 15 February and runs all the way to September.
They have one unified message for the campaign, their ultimate goal: Better Access to Care for Children / Adolescents with Cancer, Everywhere.
The ICCD campaign is a local and global call to ACT NOW. It is a call for solidarity in action: Joining voices, Connecting forces, Connecting initiatives when responding to the needs of children/adolescents with cancer, their families and the survivors. It urges governments as well as international development organizations and its various agencies, to work together with parents and survivor groups, non‐government organizations, civil society organizations (e.g. medical practitioners, health workers, academia, faith based organizations, sectoral groups) private sector and business groups, to make childhood cancer a public health priority.
It encourages the whole community to strongly advocate and demand for the BEST for children and adolescents with cancer:‐
- Better access to childhood cancer treatment and care
- Enhanced availability and access to affordable and/or free essential childhood cancer medications, including those for pain treatment
- Social protection through inclusion of childhood cancer in social health insurance or universal health coverage
- Stronger paediatric palliative care
- Targeted, less toxic treatments developed and approved, leading to decreased chronic late effects for survivors of childhood cancers
This year, they have also incorporated the Go Gold campaign in ICCD. The Gold Ribbon is the international symbol for Childhood Cancer. It represents how precious and priceless children are. You are invited to undertake initiatives to increase the visibility of the Gold Ribbon and intensify awareness of childhood cancer.
Go to the Childhood Cancer International website to download information in a number of languages and learn how you can become involved.
Tweets you can use throughout the campaign
All children with cancer irrespective of where they live deserve the best treatment and care #actnow4kidswithcancer
Children with cancer everywhere deserve the chance to live #actnow4kidswithcancer
In countries where there has been a significant reduction of U5MR, cancer has become a significant threat to the lives of children #actnow4kidswithcancer
The burden of childhood cancer is immense #actnow4kidswithcancer
The child or adolescent with cancer faces the trauma of diagnosis and treatment, the long-term effects of cancer, including fertility problems, second malignancies, and posttraumatic stress disorders #actnow4kidswithcancer
Childhood cancer imposes consequences on all family members and even on future generations #actnow4kidswithcancer
Childhood cancer affects not only kids with cancer but the entire family. #actnow4kidswithcancer
Families must not walk the cancer journey alone #actnow4kidswithcancer
Support should be provided to establish new parent groups or help those already in existence. #actnow4kidswithcancer
Parent groups help families navigate the cancer journey #actnow4kidswithcancer
Parent groups have crucial roles in advocacy and awareness campaigns #actnow4kidswithcancer
Parent groups help reduce treatment abandonment /refusal #actnow4kidswithcancer
Despite essential cytotoxic and supportive drugs for childhood cancer being on the WHO Essential Medicines List, a number of these are not consistently available and/or affordable #actnow4kidswithcancer
Even among signatory countries to the WHO Essential Medicines List not all have available and affordable childhood cancer drugs#actnow4kidswithcancer
There is an urgent need to address globally the production distribution and safety of generic off patent drugs for worldwide usage #actnow4kidswithcancer
There is an urgent need to reduce the cost of off patent generic cytotoxic and supportive drugs #actnow4kidswithcancer
There is an urgent need to ensure consistent production and worldwide availability of essential childhood cancer medicines #actnow4kidswithcancer
There are critical gaps in the palliative care response for children with cancer #actnow4kidswithcancer
Palliative care including pain control is a critical gap in meeting the needs of children with cancer #actnow4kidswithcancer
There is lack of training in children’s palliative care among health professionals #actnow4kidswithcancer
There is inadequate pain management for kids with cancer#actnow4kidswithcancer
There is lack of pain relief medications such as morphine and opioids in pediatric formulations #actnow4kidswithcancer
Stigma associated with prescribing dispensing and usage of opiates 4kidswithcancer are often based on false beliefs. #actnow4kidswithcancer
A worldwide strategy and concerted effort is required to overcome stigma associated with opiates use in childrenwithcancer#actnow4kidswithcancer