The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for unwavering support for children and adolescents facing cancer, along with their families, urging everyone to unite in the fight against childhood cancer.

WHO emphasizes the crucial role of all stakeholders in shaping a future where every child, regardless of their place of birth, has the opportunity to lead a healthy and fulfilling life.

Globally, over 1,000 children receive a cancer diagnosis daily. While medical advancements have significantly increased survival rates in high-income nations, where over 80% of diagnosed children survive, the survival rate drops to around 20% in some low- and middle-income countries.

Presently, an unexplained high fever is a common indicator of leukemia and lymphoma. Additionally, early detection of retinoblastoma, an eye tumor, is paramount to prevent blindness, with eye enlargement being a telltale sign. Brain tumors are also prevalent among children, often accompanied by symptoms like headaches, developmental delays, and abnormal head growth in infants.

In 2018, WHO launched the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer (GICC) with the ambitious aim of narrowing the survival gap by 2030, ensuring that at least 60% of children with cancer globally survive their diagnosis. GICC operates through a collaborative effort involving WHO at global, regional, and country levels, partnering notably with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Achieving this bold objective hinges on fortifying health systems to enable early detection by primary healthcare providers or parents, followed by timely referral to specialized care critical for children’s survival. Beyond treatment, children with cancer require comprehensive support for their physical and cognitive development, as well as nutritional well-being, necessitating the involvement of dedicated multidisciplinary teams.

Marking International Childhood Cancer Day 2024, WHO underscores the pivotal role of parents, family physicians, and pediatricians in promptly identifying childhood cancers. Parents are uniquely positioned to invest in their children’s well-being and can potentially save lives by recognizing and acting upon early signs and symptoms of cancer.

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