The need to toughen international efforts to combat childhood cancer by improving access to diagnosis, treatment and cure, especially in developing and underdeveloped nations, has been reiterated by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, during a commanding keynote she has recently delivered at the 50th Annual Congress of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP), in Kyoto, Japan, taking place from 16-19 November.
Stating that child patients are humanity’s biggest responsibility, Her Highness the Founder and Royal Patron of Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP), International Ambassador of the World Cancer Declaration for Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC, stressed that the world requires more medical breakthroughs in the successful treatment of paediatric cancer and other incurable diseases, the fruits of which must be equally enjoyed by all children irrespective of their geographical or ethnic differences, or social status. This forms the very basis of human justice, Her Highness noted.
Addressing Childhood Cancer International (CCI)’s global network of 188 member organisations representing 96 countries, Jawaher Al Qasimi urged developed nations with advanced healthcare systems to adopt a tougher approach and stronger commitment to ensuring that children and adolescents with cancer receive the best treatment and care wherever they may be, especially in low- and middle-income countries where the majority of them live, and cancer survival rate among them is as low as 20 percent compared to 80% in high-income countries.
This is because while most childhood cancers are curable, money plays a huge role. According to the International Society of Paediatric Oncology and the International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organizations, roughly 80 percent of children in resource-poor settings die, because they are using less than 5 percent of the world’s resources.
Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi has stressed on the need to decrease the cancer burden in developing countries by calling on developed and resource-rich nations to do their part in standardising medical treatment and care for children fighting cancer worldwide.
“My husband, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and I are committed to the mission of ensuring that children and youth around the world suffering from cancer and other life-threatening illnesses receive the care, attention, and medical treatment they deserve. We fully support your efforts to make children’s health a priority on the national and global public healthcare agenda.
“This is because we strongly believe that helping children recover from life-threatening diseases like cancer and offering them a fair chance to live a life they deserve is a necessary step to ensuring we build a stable, prosperous and just future,” Her Highness said.
“As a grandmother, I look forward with hope that discussions being held during the Congress will be a turning point and a leap forward in our global movement to combat childhood cancer, and benefit children all around the world,” Sheikha Jawaher added.
The FOCP founder and Royal Patron highlighted one of Sharjah’s efforts to combat childhood cancer, citing the example of the recent Sharjah Portage Forum, held in January this year, where 60 senior officials from international health organisations met to discuss challenges and solutions aimed at facilitating better access to childhood cancer treatment in low- and middle-income countries.
Cancer is the leading cause of death among children and youth around the world, with over 300,000 new cases diagnosed between the ages of 0 to19 annually. Shedding light on these alarming statistics, Her Highness stressed that governments, medical institutions, medical researchers and organisations worldwide must make bringing these numbers down their top priority.
The 50th annual SIOP Congress has witnessed participation of HRH Princess Dina Mired, President-Elect of UICC, as well as leading cancer-control organisations like the Childhood Cancer International Organisation, Children’s Cancer Association of Japan, Asian Children’s Care League and Union for International Cancer Control.
Accompanying Her Highness to the congress were; HE Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of FOCP Board of Directors (FOCP); and Dr Sawsan Al Madhi, Director General of FOCP.
Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi expressed her appreciation for all those who have dedicated their life to combating childhood cancer, saying, “A gathering of so many international organisations here in Kyoto reflects our collective sense of responsibility towards our children, and I am grateful for each one of your efforts.”
Her Highness applauded the WHO Global Childhood Cancer Initiative launched this year, which seeks to increase the rate of childhood cancer survivors. The initiative has been designed to scale up efforts to help governments build effective and sustainable childhood cancer programmes, aimed at providing mentorship and technical support for the treatment of at least 60 percent paediatric cancer patients worldwide by 2030.
Sheikha Jawaher’s speech at the congress focused on the theme, ‘Responding to the Challenges of Global Childhood Cancer’, which was followed by a panel discussion on the same topic within the context of PORTAGE (Paediatric Oncology Roundtable to Transform Access to Global Essentials), which highlighted global initiatives organised by them to raise awareness about childhood cancer, and rally support to combat it.
Panellists included HE Sawsan Jafar; Ruth Hoffman, CEO, the American Childhood Cancer Organization and President Childhood Cancer International; Eric Bouffet, President of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology; André Ilbawi, representative of the World Health Organization; and Avram Denburg Childhood Cancer Consultant from the United States.
The Childhood Cancer International honoured Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi in recognition of her efforts in the fight against childhood cancer around the world.
Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi also visited the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine Hospital in Japan, where she learnt about its childhood cancer treatment capacities and other medical services, and the kind of technological innovations applied for their treatment and care.
Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi was received by Dr Hiroshi Takenaka, President of Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine; Prof Hajime Hosoi, Vice President of the University and Chief of the Paediatrics Department at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine Hospital; and Dr. Shigeki Yagyu, Assistant Professor at Paediatrics Department at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine Hospital.
Her Highness also explored latest international developments that have occurred in the field of paediatric cancer care at another meeting organised by FOCP, and attended by HRH Princess Dina Mired; CCI Representatives; SIOP Representatives; Kyoto Conference Organising Committee representatives from Children’s Cancer Association of Japan representatives; Children’s Cancer Center Lebanon, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital representatives; as well as a number of fields experts and specialists.
International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) aims to make a world where no child should die of cancer. SIOP also aims to put all countries in the world under the same umbrella for the patients to be able to receive equal levels of diagnosis, treatment and care. Through the past five decades of its existence, SIOP has advocated strongly for collective efforts to solve many problems and challenge together for the future.