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IAEA Expands Capacity Building to Combat Childhood Cancer

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Dazhu Yang (right), Deputy Director General of the IAEA’s Division of Technical Cooperation and Ruth Hoffmann, President of Childhood Cancer International at the partnership signing ceremony, Vienna, 4 June 2018. (Photo: J. Howlett/IAEA)

A new partnership will enable the IAEA to better help low and middle-income countries provide increased access to early detection and treatment of paediatric cancer. Under the cooperation agreement with Childhood Cancer International (CCI), signed today, CCI and the IAEA will work together and provide specialized training for professionals working in paediatrics, increase awareness and mobilize resources to benefit children with cancer in IAEA Member States.

CCI brings together 188 organizations in 93 countries representing parents and young cancer survivors and works to promote best practices, develop effective, innovative approaches and deliver cost-effective solutions to reduce deaths from childhood cancer. It implements projects in several countries, including Ethiopia, Ghana and Myanmar to address the health care needs of children under treatment, train fellows in paediatric oncology, build sustainably run facilities and establish parent support groups.

Over 300,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed annually in children under the age of 14, and the number of cases is on the rise. A Lancet report in 2015 estimated that child survival in less developed parts of the world can be as low as 30%, compared to above 80% in high income countries.

Increasing access to treatment

“This arrangement establishes a collaboration in the fight against paediatric cancer which will increase access to radiotherapy services for children with cancer in developing countries,” said Dazhu Yang, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation. “This partnership will further support our Member States as they respond to the increasing demands for cancer service and specialised skills,” he added.

The IAEA has been working closely with Member States to devise and implement programmes which include radiation medicine as part of a multidisciplinary approach to fighting cancer, from prevention and early detection to treatment. In addition to training health professionals, the Agency contributes to quality control measures and to the procurement of equipment for treating paediatric cancers by transferring advanced technologies such as proton therapy, and develops guidelines for the safety and protection of patients, including children, who receive radiation.

Thanks to the IAEA’s involvement in cancer diagnosis and treatment globally, CCI expects the partnership to bring benefits to young patients and their families worldwide, said Ruth Hoffman, President of CCI. “Our goal is for all children and adolescents with cancer to receive the best possible level of care, and have access to diagnostic services,” she said. “We can achieve this goal with the help of the IAEA.”

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