Meeting the challenge of childhood cancer in Oceania: The WHO Global Initiative on Childhood Cancer “the million lives project”



Wherever the overall health of children improves, cancer inevitably emerges as a serious unmet health need.  However, the spectacular improvement in the outcome of childhood cancer in Australia, and other high-income countries, is yet to be seen in in low- and middle-income countries, where 80% of the world’s children live. To address this disparity and improve the care of children with cancer, the WHO in partnership with International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP), Child Cancer International and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 2018 launched the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer (GICC); “the million lives project”. The Global Initiative aims to improve the survival rate for children with cancer in LIMCs to over 60% by the year 2030. If successful it will see over 1 million children cured of cancer.



Professor Michael Sullivan is a Paediatric Oncologist/Neuro-Oncologist in the Children’s Cancer Centre, The Royal Children’s Hospital, and Professor of Paediatrics, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne. Professor Sullivan has a long-term commitment to Paediatric Oncology in Developing Countries (PODC) especially in Oceania where for over 10 years has supported the development of child cancer care in Fiji, PNG, Timor-Leste, Laos and Nepal. He is Continental President (Oceania) of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) and Co-Chair of the SIOP PODC Adapted Treatment Working Group, developing treatment protocols for cancer in LIMCs. In 2018 he represented SIOP at the WHO in Geneva that led to the launch of the Global Initiative and was recently appointed by the SIOP Board as the SIOP lead for the GICC. Together with colleagues from RCH, Professor Sullivan is looking to improve the care of children with cancer throughout Oceania.

Jayne Harrison is the Clinical Nurse Consultant for Solid Tumours in the CCC. She a dedicated interest in the development of resources for nursing education and training in Oceania and the application of the SIOP nursing standards.

Mary McGowan in the senior Liaison Nurse/Co-ordinator for the CCC and Oceania representative on the international child cancer parent support organisation, Child Cancer International and is a member of the WHO GCCI. In this role she is supporting the development of parent organisations to assist families of children diagnosed with cancer in Oceania.

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