THE ACCESS TO CHILDHOOD CANCER ESSENTIALS (ACCESS) INITIATIVE ANNOUNCES TRANSFORMATIVE PROGRAMS TO INCREASE ACCESS TO CRITICAL MEDICINES
• Multistakeholder partnership seeks to enhance care for children with cancer in Africa
• Provides life-saving cancer medicines to children in Ethiopia in collaboration with Teva
• Funds critical research on childhood cancer medicine needs and access barriers in East Africa
Access to Childhood Cancer Essentials (ACCESS) today announced two initiatives with partners across sectors to improve the lives of children with cancer in Africa. The first, in collaboration with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. provides essential, life-saving cancer medicines to children in Ethiopia, and the second funds critical research on childhood cancer medicine needs and access barriers in East Africa with the aim of improving future procurement.
Cancer is the highest non-communicable disease-related cause of death among children globally. While in high-income countries, more than 80 percent of children with cancer are cured, the same percentage of those in low- and middle-income countries die.
In partnership with Teva Pharmaceuticals, Direct Relief and the Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Fund Supply Agency, ACCESS is providing an emergency provision of 13 cancer medicines from the World Health Organization’s Essential Medicine List—more than 17,000 vials—to children with cancer in Ethiopia.
This comes as a response to an urgent plea from parents and medical providers of children with cancer, as well as health system leaders. Bitew Tesfaye, a farm laborer, father to seven children, including his six-year old daughter diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma who is awaiting treatment in Addis Ababa shared, “We come from far away, hoping for our children to get well. We start treatment and begin to see light, but, when we are told medicine is not available or only available in a private pharmacy, our hope fades. Now, with access to these medicines, we have hope again.”
“Direct Relief is deeply appreciative to Teva and ACCESS for their leadership and initiative in providing critical treatments to underserved patients in Ethiopia and globally,” said Tom Roane, Strategic Initiatives Director at Direct Relief. “Thanks to this collaboration, patients who would otherwise be unable to access cancer therapies will be able to receive the treatments they need to recover.”
ACCESS is also launching an innovative research program to study the many critical barriers to childhood cancer drug access in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
“A significant limitation to providing critical medicines to children with cancer in Africa is the lack of knowledge about the scope of the problem,” said Dr. Avram Denburg, Pediatric Oncologist and Principal Investigator, Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Canada and co-founder of ACCESS.
“The ACCESS East Africa Program is forecasting childhood cancer medicine needs in the region. This will help inform national government procurement efforts and generate evidence of specific barriers to childhood cancer medicine access in each of these countries.”
This program is made possible through the generous support of Friends of Cancer Patient’s Ameera Fund and in collaboration with the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health, American Childhood Cancer Organization, Clinton Health Access Initiative and World Bank.
Addressing both immediate and long-term needs, these initiatives represent the power and promise of innovative collaborations between non-profit organizations, the pharmaceutical industry, academia and global health institutions to help save lives of thousands of children with cancer.