February 4 & 15: World Cancer Days

Mar 14, 2017 11:05 AM ET

The global health community has made great strides towards addressing cancer in the past decade. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that this progress reaches low and lower middle income countries: more than 60% of the world’s total new annual cancer cases occur in Africa, Asia and Central and South America. These regions account for 70% of the world’s cancer deaths1.

That is why Sanofi, responsible company, is committed beside more than 20 biopharmaceutical companies in the Access Accelerated Initiative, a coalition for health launched on January 18 during the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland). Its goal is to address the burden of all non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which are responsible for as many as 36 million deaths each year: cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, mental health disorders and also cancers.

Sanofi chose to include its childhood cancer fighting program “My Child Matters” under the umbrella of the Access Accelerated Initiative and to further roll it out to new geographies. Created 10 years ago, “My Child Matters” is present in 16 countries throughout the African, Asian and South American continents.

Childhood cancers are a major health challenge: each year, nearly 300,000 children and adolescents around the world are diagnosed with cancer. About 80% of them live in countries with limited resources, where cure rates hover around 40% and as low as 10-20% in some sub-Saharan African countries, whereas only 20% of these cancers occur in developed countries where cure rates are over 80%.

The “My Child Matters“ program has allowed significant progress on the ground for the support of patients suffering from paediatric cancers. Part of the outreach is focused on training healthcare professionals, for instance in “Palliative care and pain management in pediatrics”, in partnership with the Onco-Paediatric French-African Group (GFAOP).

The program also wants to ensure better diagnosis and follow-up of patients. This has been made possible through the establishment of patient registries in Colombia and in Mali for instance. Finally, it is about raising awareness more broadly about childhood cancer: in the Philippines, the “My Child Matters” supported awareness campaigns successfully made the government react to this issue, and the national insurance Philhealth now includes standard risk acute leukemia in its free coverage. As a result, the treatment abandonment rate fell from 80% (in 2005) to 10% in 2015.


  1. World Health Organization Cancer Fact Sheet, Updated February 2015, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/.