WHO and St. Jude of Memphis will dramatically increase access to childhood cancer drugs around the world.
This is the largest funding allocation ever for childhood cancer chemotherapy drugs in low- and middle-income countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and St. Jude today announced the establishment of a platform that will dramatically increase access to childhood cancer drugs worldwide.
The Global Platform for Access to Childhood Cancer Medicines, which is the first established in the world for this purpose, will ensure the uninterrupted supply of quality drugs to low- and middle-income countries. In a period of six years, this hospital will invest US $ 200 million so that the platform offers free medicines to the countries that participate in the experimental phase. This is the largest financial contribution to a global childhood cancer drug initiative to date.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “Nearly nine out of ten children with cancer live in low- and middle-income countries, where survival is less than 30%, compared with 80% in in low- and middle-income countries. This new platform, in addition to the successful Global Initiative Against Childhood Cancer launched in 2018 by St. Jude Hospital, will help address this unacceptable imbalance and give hope to thousands of parents facing the devastating reality of cancer. childish”.
Affordable, Quality, and Continuous Antineoplastics for Children
An estimated 400,000 children around the world get cancer every year. In most low- and middle-income countries, these children do not have access to chemotherapy drugs on a regular basis or cannot afford them. As a result, nearly 100,000 children die each year.
The goal of this new platform is to provide safe and effective antineoplastic drugs to about 120,000 children between 2022 and 2027, with the hope of expanding this number in later years. Support is expected at all stages of the process, from start to finish, to agglutinate demand and thus shape the market, help countries select drugs, develop therapeutic criteria, and strengthen information systems to verify that care is being delivered. effective and that innovation is promoted.
Dr. James R. Downing, President and CEO of St. Jude explains: “Our hospital’s longstanding goal has been to advance the research and treatment of childhood cancer and other diseases that have catastrophic consequences for children. Almost 60 years after our founding, we joined forces with the World Health Organization, various partner organizations, and our Global Alliance partners to extend that promise to children around the world. Thanks to this platform, we are laying the groundwork to treat children with safe chemotherapy, wherever they live. ‘
This innovative approach opens a new chapter in access to cancer care by tackling the problem of low availability of chemotherapy drugs in low- and middle-income countries, often due to high prices, supply and payment disruptions. direct that users must carry out and that lead them to suffer financial difficulties.
According to a survey published in 2020 by WHO on the capacity of countries to cope with noncommunicable diseases, only 29% of low-income countries generally have antineoplastic drugs for their population, while in the high-income countries this percentage is 96%. The new platform, by bringing together the needs of children with cancer around the world, will help reduce the unauthorized purchase of substandard quality and counterfeit drugs and address the constraints faced by national regulatory agencies.
Dr. Carlos Rodrí guez Galindo, who is Executive Vice President of Hospital St. Jude, Chairman of the World Department of Pediatrics and Director of St. Jude Global, said: “If we do not solve the shortage and low quality of chemotherapy drugs that affect many parts of the world, we have little option to cure these children. Health professionals must have reliable sources of current reference antineoplastics. At St. Jude Hospital, hand in hand with WHO partners who will also provide funding, we will fight to address this problem. ”
For her part, Dr. Bente Mikkelsen, Director of the WHO Department of Noncommunicable Diseases, said: “WHO works on the ground, hand in hand with governments, to provide support and services so that all children have access to the best possible treatment. against cancer”.
An experimental phase in 12 countries
In the first two years, the platform will operate experimentally to acquire and distribute drugs to 12 countries in a process in which governments, cancer centers and non-governmental organizations that are already working in the fight against cancer will participate. At the moment, conversations are being held with the governments of various countries to define which of them will participate in this phase. It is anticipated that by the end of 2027, childhood antineoplastic drugs will be provided to 50 countries. ‘
Kathy Pritchard-Jones, President of the International Society for Pediatric Oncology, said: “We are looking forward to taking this journey with St. Jude Hospital and WHO to bring quality chemotherapy to all children, everywhere. This platform makes the dream of our more than 2,600 members around the world come true. ”
João Bragança, President of Childhood Cancer International, has expressed himself in similar terms: “Cancer should not be a death sentence for any child, regardless of where they live. Thanks to this platform, St. Jude Hospital is helping families have medicines that will save the lives of their children. By working together, we can offer an alternative to children with cancer around the world. ‘
A continuous collaboration
The World Health Organization and St. Jude from Memphis
They began collaborating in 2018, when the hospital became the first WHO collaborating center for childhood cancer and allocated US $ 15 million to launch the Global Initiative against Childhood Cancer. One of the goals of this initiative, which supports more than 50 governments to create and maintain local cancer programs, is to increase survival after cancer to 60% by 2030. The Global Platform for Access to Medicines against Childhood Cancer will develop activities establishing synergies with said Global Initiative and contributing substantially to achieving its goals.
The Global Platform for Access to Medicines against Childhood Cancer is part of the six-year strategic plan of the St. Jude, whose goal is to move faster to fight diseases that have catastrophic consequences for children around the world, thanks to its increased investment in research and patient care.