Settled in at World Child Cancer

Well, it’s now the end of my 4th week on PULSE assignment to World Child Cancer UK, so probably about time for my first blog attempt. As the first “PULSE fellow” to come from GSK to WCC UK, it’s probably a good start to spend most of this entry introducing them…
Probably the best way to sum up the aims of the organisation is to steal this graphic from the home page:


So, what are the two numbers? Well, they are typical survival rates for childhood cancer – and with around 80% of the 200,000 new cases of child cancer occurring globally in low and middle income countries, closing even half the ‘survival gap’ could save 60,000 lives per year! Getting to the 50-60% that is achievable with simple, relatively cheap medicines and well-tested procedures would add another 20,000 to that number…
The charity’s mission, “To improve cancer diagnosis, treatment and care for children across the developing world” is not a simple one. The reasons for the massive gap are far more numerous and complex than shortages of facilities, healthcare professionals or medicines (those these are all significant). There are barriers in people’s beliefs and knowledge, while money is of course a major problem: travelling from a rural setting to a large urban (often capital city) hospital, staying there during a treatment cycle, then travelling home again (and repeating this for a large number of treatment cycles) can prove prohibitive in cost terms.
The charity now has active projects across the developing world, from Latin America (Colombia and Central America), via Africa (Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi and the multi-country ‘Wilms Tumour Project’) to Asia (Bangladesh and Philippines), despite being a relatively young organisation (founded in 2007, with the first project going live in 2009). That’s a relatively short list of countries, and illustrates the mammoth size of the task ahead!
More to follow soon … promise!!!

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