Status of Palliative Oncology Care for Children and Young People in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Perspective Paper on Priorities for New Frontiers.
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<p><strong>PURPOSE: </strong>The burden of cancer disproportionately affects low- and middle-income countries. Low 5-year survival figures for children with cancer in low-income countries are due to late presentation at diagnosis, treatment abandonment, absence of sophisticated multidisciplinary care, and lack of adequate resources. The reasons for late presentation are partly due to limited awareness of cancer symptoms, high treatment costs, and facility-level barriers to timely access to treatment. Given the systemic challenges, the regional need for palliative oncology care for children care is high. Despite the enormity of the need for palliative oncology for children with cancer in Africa, its level of development remains poor. This paper presents the evidence on the status of palliative oncology care for children in sub-Saharan Africa.</p>
<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>This review provides an overview of the current status of palliative oncology care for children in sub-Saharan Africa, using the WHO building blocks for health systems strengthening as reference points, before proposing a forward-looking prioritized agenda for its development.</p>
<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>We noted that survival rates for children with cancer remain much poorer in Africa compared with developed countries and palliative oncology care resources are scant. Our results also show low coverage for palliative oncology care services for children, lack of a critical mass of health workers with the skills to deliver the care, a lack of robust documentation of the burden of cancer, widespread lack of access to essential controlled medicines, limited funding from government and limited coverage for palliative oncology care in most cancer control plans.</p>
<p><strong>CONCLUSION: </strong>This review highlights priority areas for action that align to the WHO health system building blocks for strengthening health systems.</p>
JCO Glob Oncol