Improving cancer care for children in the developing world: Challenges and strategies


Improving cancer care for children in the developing world: Challenges and strategies


Al Lamki Z


Current Pediatric Reviews




Child Care;childhood Cancer; Accreditation; Antineoplastic Agent; Awareness; Cancer Diagnosis; Cancer Recurrence; Cancer Registry; Cancer Research; Cancer Survival; Cancer Therapy; Clinical Effectiveness; Clinical Trial (topic); Cost Effectiveness Analysis; Country Economic Status; Cultural Factor; Delayed Diagnosis; Diagnostic Error; Family Therapy; Health Care Availability; Health Care Cost; Health Care Personnel; Human; Job Change; Medical Education; Medical Technology; Palliative Therapy; Patient Abandonment; Patient Referral; Poverty; Priority Journal; Program Sustainability; Review; Sepsis; Stratification; Toxicity


Cancer is a global health problem particularly in developing countries where the burden of cancer is ever increasing and claiming the lives of about 100,000 children under the age of 15 years every year. Majority of these occur in the Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) where 90% of world children live. Contributing factors to this trend is the reduction of communicable diseases and emergence of new infections, improvement of nutrition and socio-economic conditions, industrialization and urbanization. However, due to its complexity, childhood cancer is given the least priority by the governments' funding. The weak health systems, poor and late access to diagnosis and care, fewer numbers of trained health care professionals and lack of cancer drugs are amongst the many challenges faced. A major challenge for the future is extending the work to reach the many children who die without access to cancer treatment and palliation. Given the inequalities in the survival rates of children with cancer there is therefore an urgent need to close the gap between developed and developing countries. Strategies at individual, institutional, country, regional and global levels must be implemented to improve cancer survival and its effects on human suffering. These strategies are able to strengthen the health systems, improve care and research, increase awareness and coordinate training of professionals thus meeting the challenges. Financial support should be an integral part of the strategy as the cost of drugs is often a substantial barrier to treatment of cancer in poor countries. However, in resource-limited settings without specialized services, much can still be done to support and offer curative and palliative treatment. As have been shown for several cancers, life can be extended with low-tech treatment protocols, which are effective at the same time, decrease sepsis and toxicity. The concept of twinning with privileged nations is paramount to the success of any national cancer program. International partnership offers the opportunity to provide expertise, advice, support and transfer technology from established pediatric oncology unit. Their mission is to build capacity for cancer treatment and research with a vision of developing network of dedicated advocates. The LMIC teams must locally drive projects and volunteers and funding organizations can help to make progress possible. This will require a tremendous effort on the part of both high and low-middle-income countries, if we are all to work together to achieve this goal.


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Citation List Month



Al Lamki Z, “Improving cancer care for children in the developing world: Challenges and strategies,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed November 30, 2023,