World Child Cancer is helping children in Malawi by improving cancer diagnosis, treatment and supportive care at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre. Many child cancers are curable at reasonable cost even within basic health systems with drugs and treatments which have been known to doctors for decades. World Child Cancer transfers this expertise through medical twinning partnerships. The project helps around 250 children a year by saving lives and reducing suffering.
Fewer than a third of all children with cancer in Malawi are diagnosed and for those who are diagnosed survival rates are significantly lower than in developed countries. Low survival rates are the result of late diagnosis, a lack of trained healthcare professionals, lack of drugs and high rates of abandonment of treatment. In addition, the majority of children with incurable cancer die in pain because of a lack of palliative care and effective pain relief medication.
World Child Cancer has developed a twinning partnership between the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre and hospitals in Amsterdam and Newcastle to transfer specialist medical expertise and skills to healthcare professionals in Malawi.
The project is in it's 5th year, now reaching 250 children per year, and has already increased survival rates for the most common diagnosed cancers to around 53%.
Abandonment of treatment is being tackled with a clinical outreach programme.
The project will continue to increase survival rates for easily treatable child cancers such as Burkitts lymphoma (the most common child cancer in Malawi) and Wilms tumour (a type of kidney cancer) to 60% resulting in more lives being saved each year. As well as this, children with incurable cancers will receive effective pain relief. In addition, capacity will be built through the training of healthcare professionals and the development of locally appropriate treatment protocols.