The International Union Against Cancer (UICC) and sanofi-aventis announced that seven new projects for improving cancer care for children in low- and middle-income countries have been selected in Cameroon, Ecuador, Mozambique, Panama and Thailand.

These five countries join the 21 countries that have already received support through the international My child matters program, launched jointly by UICC and sanofi-aventis in 2005. Each of these seven projects will be given seed grants worth €50,000 for 2010, and the support of international experts in pediatric oncology, fundamental research and public health.

The UICC congratulates these projetcts for their active role in fighting cancer in children. "We are sure the combination of local enthusiasm and the benefit of international mentorship will help this project to succeed," says UICC Deputy Chief Executive Officer Dr. Julie Torode.

"Nearly five years after the initiative ‘ My child matters' was launched, it continues to show that we can all work together to create new types of partnerships to meet health challenges that do not receive sufficient attention, such as childhood cancers in developing countries", says Gilles Lhernould, Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, sanofi-aventis, who added: " It is our responsibility to help these countries to reduce healthcare inequalities, specially when children are concerned".

Each year more than 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer, and about 90,000 die of their disease. With prompt and effective treatment, most childhood cancers can be cured. In developed countries, the survival rate is nearly 80%. But in developing countries, where 80% of children with cancer live, access to early diagnosis, information and effective care are very limited or not yet available, and the survival rate drops to 20% or even 10%.

My child matters, a long-standing partnership between UICC and sanofi-aventis, aims to correct this imbalance by supporting projects in hospitals, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other relevant organizations in low- and mid-income countries.

In 2005, 14 projects were funded in 10 pilot countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Honduras, Morocco, Philippines, Senegal, Tanzania, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam. In 2006, 10 additional projects received grants in six countries: Bolivia, Indonesia, Kenya, Mali, Peru and Romania. In 2008, eight projects were funded in five new countries: Burkina Faso, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Pakistan and Paraguay.

By virtue of the number of countries involved, My child matters is now one of the largest initiatives in fighting childhood cancer in low and middle -income countries. It provides seed grants for projects together with a network of international experts to support local medical facilities, based on solidarity and a deep commitment to progress. As part of its social responsibility agenda, sanofi-aventis has already devoted €3 million to this initiative and will contribute a further €3 million for the 2010-2013 period.

The seven new My child matters projects are:

1: Cameroon
Extending, reorganizing and training health professionals in the pediatric hematology-oncology unit at the mother and child centre of the Fondation Chantal Biya. Yaoundé.

2: Ecuador
New design of the cancer population registry in the cities of Quito, Cuenca, Manabi and Loga. SOLCA Nucleo de Quito Society for the Fight Against Cancer, Quito.

3: Mozambique
A smile against pain": improving care for children with cancer in Mozambique. "Sorriso da Crianca" Association, Maputo.

4: Panama
Educational program in pediatric oncology for ethnic groups of Panama: bringing hope in spite of distance, geography, and social barriers." Panama Children Hospital, Calidonia.

5, 6, 7: Thailand
Improving pediatric brain tumour access to care: a national network in Thaïland. Thai Pediatric Group, Bangkok.
Palliative care and quality of life for children with cancer in Thailand. The Wishing Well Foundation, Bangkok.
From cure to care; holistic care for children with cancer. Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkhla university, Hat Yai.