Childhood cancer is often curable, with an 84% survival rate in high-income countries. However, in many low-income countries survival rates are 10% or lower with many children never even receiving a diagnosis, instead they die of a mystery illness without palliative care. World Child Cancer improves the diagnosis, treatment and support of children with cancer in low and middle-income countries and provides support to their families.
They achieve this by twinning the hospitals in Africa and Asia with leading childhood cancer units in high-income countries. These partnerships, together with staff training and mentoring, provide valuable transfer of expertise which builds the sustainable capacity and knowledge of doctors and nurses in-country. They also develop holistic care for families, support treatment costs, provide ward equipment and fund essential staff posts. To affect long term change, they also deliver awareness-raising programmes and liaise with policy-makers at home and abroad.
WCC currently are working in Malawi. A grant from One Kind Act would help WCC to strengthen childhood cancer services in Malawi so that the county’s main paediatric oncology centre, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) can better diagnose, treat and care for children with cancer.
Over half of One Kind Act’s grant would be focused on supporting families with the costs of treatment and diagnosis that are not funded by the state, sadly too many families in Malawi drop out of treatment as they simply can’t afford it.
The remainder of the grant would help facilitate twinning visits of experts in paediatric oncology from the UK to train hospital staff at QECH as well as funding the training of frontline health workers so that they recognise the symptoms of childhood cancer, meaning children will be referred to the correct place quickly, giving them the best possible chance of survival.
Update - Grant Provided by One Kind Act 19 January 2020
As a result of One Kind Act’s very successful fund-raising effort at the Child of Mine Ball held in December 2019, a grant of £25,416 in total was made to World Child Cancer to help towards
1. supporting families with the costs of diagnosis, drugs, transport and nutrition. around Malawi that are not funded by the state. A minimum of £7955 will be used for treatment & diagnosis, which honours the specific pledges made by guests on the night of the Child of Mine Ball.
2. facilitate twinning visits of experts in paediatric oncology from the UK to train hospital staff at QECH in Malawi
It is estimated that 1,250 children develop cancer in Malawi each year but under 35% are diagnosed at one of the two hospitals in Malawi with paediatric oncology programmes. A diagnosis means that most children can begin curative treatment but where that is not viable, they can at least receive palliative care improving their quality of life. Conversely, 65% of children with cancer in Malawi currently die without even palliative care, meaning the end of life for many children is unnecessarily painful.
WCC have partnered with QECH since 2009 to improve its services; then, just 150 children were diagnosed each year, and fewer than 30% who reached the hospital survived. Now, around 250 children are diagnosed each year, and one-year survival of those diagnosed is 55%. QECH is one of just two paediatric oncology units able to treat childhood cancer in Malawi. Three years ago the only Malawian paediatric oncologist, who is based at QECH, completed his training supported by World Child Cancer.
Improving treatment at QECH
Through this project, WCC aim to further strengthen the skills of the team at QECH to provide higher-quality diagnosis, treatment and care to children with cancer. Many of the improvements in the Paediatric Oncology Department at QECH can be attributed to twinning visits from UK based paediatric oncologists. Both specialists work with the local QECH team to improve their skills and help them translate developments in paediatric oncology in the UK to the more resource-poor setting in Malawi. We aim to support three twinning visits to QECH in 2020, one of which is included in this project. The UK based doctor will deliver training, mentoring and support to 15 ward staff on diagnosing, treating and managing childhood cancer. They will also develop locally appropriate treatment protocols.
WCC are developing an Africa specific paediatric oncology nurse training programme for senior nurses and an introduction to children’s cancer nursing that can be delivered locally for nurses rotated onto the ward, we plan to implement both this year with support from One Kind Act.
Having a child under treatment for cancer is highly disruptive to the whole family, it can take a long time, deprive parents of the opportunity to earn income and is deeply unpleasant.
We are beginning to develop the plans to build a new children’s cancer ward in Malawi with separate inpatient and outpatient floors, at present the ward is too small and is limiting the growth of the programme. We are working towards a time when all children with cancer in Malawi are able to get a timely diagnosis and high quality treatment that gives them the best possible chance of survival.
About One Kind Act
One Kind Act Change Communities and lives of others globally who suffer as a result of Poverty of Health, Nutrition and Education and may have Fallen Through The Net of the larger charities. Learn More here