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Every child must receive equal access to cancer treatment, says Jawaher Al Qasimi

KYOTO, 20th November, 2018 (WAM) – There is a need to toughen international efforts to combat cancer in children by improving access to diagnosis, treatment and cure, especially in developing and underdeveloped nations, reiterated H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, during her keynote address at the 50th Annual Congress of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology, SIOP, in Kyoto, Japan.

Stating that child patients are humanity’s biggest responsibility, Sheikha Jawaher, who is also 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, she said.

Addressing Childhood Cancer International's global network of 188 member organisations representing 96 countries, Sheikha 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 most of them live, and the cancer survival rate among them is as low as 20 percent compared to 80 percent 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 Organisations, roughly 80 percent of children in resource-poor settings die, because they are using less than five percent of the world’s resources.

Sheikha Jawaher stressed the need to decrease the burden of cancer in developing countries by calling on developed and resource-rich nations to do their part in standardising medical treatment and care for children.

"My husband, H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed 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 affirmed.

"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 the 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, she 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 Sheikha Jawaher to the congress were Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of FOCP Board of Directors; 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."

She 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.

Childhood Cancer International honoured Sheikha Jawaher in recognition of her efforts in the fight against childhood cancer around the world.

She 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.

WAM/ /Nour Salman