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Improving survival of children with cancer worldwide: the St. Jude International Outreach Program approach.

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1
International Outreach Program, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Memphis, TN, USA.

Abstract

The mission of the St. Jude International Outreach Program (IOP) is to improve the survival rate of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases worldwide, through the sharing of knowledge, technology, and organizational skills. There are an estimated 160,000 newly diagnosed cases of childhood cancer worldwide each year, and cancer is emerging as a major cause of childhood death in the developing regions of Asia, South and Central America, northwest Africa, and the Middle East. Over the past 30 years improved therapy has dramatically increased survival rates for children with cancer, but still more than 70% of the world's children with cancer lack access to modern treatment. Although sick children from around the world have traveled to our hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, since its inception, treating children in their own countries is more efficient and less disruptive for them and their families. In the context of St. Jude's culture of sharing knowledge about the management of children with cancer, we now use modern technology to reach far more children than would ever be able to come to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. St. Jude strives to address the needs of those children in countries that lack sufficient resources and to help them manage their own burden of cases effectively. By sharing knowledge and technology with the local governments, health care providers, and the private sector in these countries, St. Jude is improving diagnoses and treatments to increase the survival rates of children all across the globe. In addition to training medical teams locally, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital hosts many visiting fellows at our campus in Memphis. St. Jude helps partner medical institutions develop tailored evidence-based protocols for treating children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. St. Jude physicians serve as mentors to physicians at our partner sites and consult on difficult cases. Nurses are trained on best practices in clinical care and pathologists on techniques for accurate diagnosis. We also partner with local fundraising foundations that support the medical programs. This model has proved to be highly effective in providing poor children in developing countries access to modern treatment and care. True to the commitment of St. Jude to sharing information with the worldwide medical community, in 2002 St. Jude launched Cure4Kids, a comprehensive online resource dedicated to supporting the care of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Today Cure4Kids (www.Cure4Kids.org) has over 27,000 registered users in more than 175 countries. In 2006 St. Jude launched the Cancer Education for Children Program (Cure4Kids for Kids) that helps school children, their parents, and teachers understand the basic science and treatment of cancer. The IOP is ambitious, widely inclusive, and relentless in its pursuit of the dream of St. Jude's founder Danny Thomas that "no child should die in the dawn of life." No child, anywhere in the world.

PMID:
22910495
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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