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IAEA and St. Jude Look to Increase Global Access to Radiotherapy for Children with Cancer


Children receiving treatment at the Cancer Diseases Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, play in the hospital’s nursery. The IAEA and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are exploring ways to expand access to cancer treatment for children. (Photo: L. Potterton/IAEA)

The IAEA, through its Rays of Hope initiative, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, through its Global Alliance, are exploring ways to work together to save children's lives through access to quality radiotherapy and diagnostic imaging. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and James R Downing, President and CEO of St. Jude, signed a letter of intent on 14 August to establish a partnership on expanding access to radiotherapy for childhood cancer.  

“Many children around the world do not have access to cancer care simply because of where they live, and we can change that,” Mr Grossi said. “We are proud to be working together with St. Jude, a global leader in the research and treatment of childhood cancer and other life-threatening paediatric diseases.”

St. Jude was established in 1962, and since then, the hospital has helped to improve childhood cancer survival rate from 20 per cent to 80 per cent in the United States of America.

“The mission of St. Jude is to advance cures and means of prevention for paediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment,” Dr Downing said. “To accomplish this in low- and middle-income settings will require increasing access to diagnostics imaging and radiation oncology. Working collaboratively with IAEA through their Rays of Hope initiative, we will accelerate the implementation of these modalities into the treatment plan for children everywhere.”

Around the world, an estimated 400 000 children and adolescents develop cancer each year. Nearly 90 per cent of these children live in low- and middle- income countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Survival in these countries is less than 30 per cent, compared with 80 per cent in high-income countries.

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