For children in developing countries, cancer care is largely out of reach. But new research is challenging assumptions that it’s too costly and complicated.
It’s one of the great achievements of modern medicine: with advances in treatment, cure rates for children with cancer in North America now exceed 80%, up from 10% in the 1960s.
Yet for kids across the developing world, the fruits of that progress remain largely out of reach. In low- and middle-income countries, restrictive access to affordable treatment, a shortage of cancer specialists and late diagnosis dooms more than 80% of pediatric patients to die of the same illnesses.
That’s one measure of what’s known as the “global cancer divide”— the vast and growing gap in access to quality cancer care between wealthy and poorer countries, and the suffering and death that occurs disproportionately in the latter.
Nowhere is that divide more pronounced than among children, and it’s driven in large part, experts say, by perceptions of pediatric cancer care as too costly and too complicated to deliver in low-resource settings. Those assumptions, they say, prevent policymakers from even considering pediatric oncology when setting national health priorities.