WHO releases suite of tools to improve diagnosis, treatment

Health Watch

A SUITE of tools to help countries improve diagnosis and treatment of cancer among children was released on Monday by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on International Childhood Cancer Day.
According to a statement from the WHO, the package includes a “how-to” guide for policy-makers, cancer control programme managers and hospital managers; an assessment tool to inform implementation; and, a multilingual online portal for sharing information.
The new tools will support countries with implementation of the CureAll approach, adopted by the WHO’s global initiative for childhood cancer.
The initiative, launched in 2018, aims to achieve 60 per cent survival for childhood cancer globally by 2030.
Currently, children living in high-income countries have an 80 per cent chance of cure, while less than 30 per cent of children diagnosed with cancer in many low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) survive.
During the last two years, the global initiative, supported by St Jude children’s research hospital, a WHO collaborating centre in the United States, has become active in more than 30 countries and benefits from the participation of more than 120 global partners.
These partners work together to support governments with the implementation of the CureAll approach, addressing common reasons for the low survival of children with cancer in LMICs.
These reasons include late or incorrect diagnosis, insufficient diagnostic capacity, delays in or inaccessible treatment and treatment abandonment.
Solutions to all of these issues are provided in the new “how-to” guide, which is based on four pillars: centres of excellence with defined referral pathways and a trained workforce; inclusion of childhood cancer in national benefit packages for universal health coverage; treatment standards-based on evidence and tailored to local capacity; and, robust information systems for continuous monitoring of programme performance.
Case studies from countries which have begun implementing the CureAll approach, such as Ghana, Peru and Uzbekistan, are also included.
An assessment tool to inform implementation of the initiative and support real-time interpretation of data is also being launched today.
The tool, developed under the leadership of the WHO with the international atomic energy agency, the international agency for research on cancer and other partners, will enable national cancer programmes to develop tailored approaches for cancer control in their setting.
This tool can generate data for decision-making and help address data gaps in LMICs.
The importance of sharing of data, clinical experience and expertise is key to improving standards and performance in cancer programmes around the world.
A new online community of practice, the WHO knowledge action portal, will support implementation of the global initiative for childhood cancer.
The portal, with content in six languages, offers focal points for cancer in ministries of health a forum for establishing and managing partnerships, organising training programmes and sharing resources.
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early last year created a need for another type of data, on the effect of the Covid-19.