Saideh Ghods, the founder of MAHAK is a member of Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer (GICC) regional working group as the representative of the only highly-specialized pediatric cancer treatment center in Iran. She is also a member of the regional board of Childhood Cancer International (CCI) which is working in line with the aims of the mentioned initiative at the regional level.
In September 2018, WHO announced a new undertaking – the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer – with the aim of reaching at least 60% survival rate for children with cancer by 2030, thereby saving an additional one million lives. This new target represents a doubling of the global cure rate for children with cancer.
The aims of the Initiative are two-fold: to increase prioritization of childhood cancer through awareness raising at global and national levels, and to expand the capacity of countries to deliver best practice in childhood cancer care. Concretely, WHO will support governments to assess current capacities in cancer diagnosis and treatment including the availability of medicine, equipment and technologies; establish and fund priority cancer diagnosis and treatment programs; and integrate childhood cancer into national strategies, health benefits packages and social insurance schemes.
Survival Rate of Cancer-stricken Children in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) Is 4 Times Less than Developed Countries
Cancer is a leading cause of death for children, with 300,000 new cases diagnosed each year among children aged 0-19 years. Children with cancer in low- and middle-income countries are four times more likely to die of the disease than children in high-income countries. This is because their illnesses are not diagnosed on time, they are often forced to abandon treatment due to high costs, and the health professionals entrusted with their care lack specialized training and equipment.
In this vein, a technical package dubbed CureAll will guide countries as they carry out the Global Initiative, the outcome of which will hopefully be stronger health systems and improved care for children.The first focus of this initiative is on the six common cancers which represent 50 to 60% of all childhood cancers and are highly curable with proven therapies. These cancer types are: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Burkitt Lymphoma, Hodgkin Lymphoma, Retinoblastoma, Wilm’s Tumor, and Low-Grade Glioma.
This initiative spans country, regional and global levels. It relies on WHO regional and country offices as well as national and state governments. Their actions are supported by academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) including parent support and advocacy groups, private sector entities and philanthropic foundations. These networks and partners are designed to serve the needs of children with cancer and their family. Focus countries were selected to pilot the Global Initiative from 2018 to 2020. These initial focus countries included: Ghana, Morocco, Myanmar, Peru, the Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Zambia. The second stage of launching this initiative occurs in 2021 to 2023. ; In this phase, low- and middle-income countries can join voluntarily. MAHAK, as the only highly-specialized center of its kind in the region whose founder is the regional board member of Childhood Cancer International (CCI) will join GICC as Iran’s representative.
Providing Integrated Supportive and Treatment Services in line with GICC Recommendations
Saideh Ghods, the founder of MAHAK elaborated on the initiative and added:” MAHAK provides support services to all cancer-stricken children and their families in Iran and it provides the major proportion of pediatric oncology treatment capacity in the country by managing MAHAK Hospital which is the only highly-specialized pediatric cancer treatment center in Iran. MAHAK tries to increase awareness towards pediatric cancer, implement integrated services to all children with cancer in the country and finally increase the survival rate in cancer-stricken children by joining the GICC initiative as an active partner.”
The member of regional board of Chilchood Cancer International (CCI) continued: “MAHAK as the organization with the mission of supporting cancer-stricken children and their families has been striving to provide the best services to them during the past 30 years. Along the same line, being present in the international arena and adapting its standards with global best practices has been continuous obsession for the founders of this organization. We look forward to the eradication of childhood cancer nationally and internationally now that a global initiative of such depth has been rolled out.”