On May 24th, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital announced their commitment to invest over $100 million toward the treatment of pediatric cancer and other life threatening diseases on a worldwide scale.
This new initiative, called St. Jude Global, aims to reach 30% of the world’s population of children with cancer within the next ten years. While childhood survival rates for pediatric cancer have risen to over 80% in the US and other developed countries, they remain at roughly a quarter of this percentage in low and middle-income countries around the world, despite the fact that 80% of the world’s pediatric cancer patients live in these areas. In addition, as more children are living beyond infancy due to global advances in the treatment of many infectious diseases, pediatric cancer rates continue to rise.
St. Jude founder Danny Thomas dreamed of a world where ‘no child should die in the dawn of life,’” said James R. Downing, M.D., St. Jude president and chief executive officer. “While we have made great strides in achieving this dream in some parts of the world, the majority of children still die from cancers that can be effectively treated. With St. Jude Global, we are expanding the ways in which St. Jude reaches and impacts the quality of care provided to children around the world, closing the gap in survival that has persisted for too long.
Through St. Jude Global, the hospital has been able to expand its individual partnerships with hospitals around the world into regional networks, building a global community of dedicated professionals and fostering the sharing of research, organizational techniques, and technology.
“We are in a position to set up global collaborations—big efforts others can’t do,” Downing explained, in a 2016 interview with St. Jude Promise. “We want to define how to treat cancer patients across the globe and teach clinicians and investigators around the world how to do this.”
How is this going to work?
St. Jude Global plans to reach its goal by directing its efforts toward three primary areas: education, capacity building, and research. In pursuing its educational initiatives, the department plans to train and equip a team of professionals capable of providing the highest standard of treatment and care to every child, no matter where they live. Through capacity building, they seek to develop and reinforce systems of support between organizations in order to create an extended network of advanced resources. Finally, their research development protocols aim to improve research practices around the world, advancing knowledge and discovery within the field of global pediatric oncology and hematology.
Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, M.D., executive vice president and chair of the St. Jude Department of Global Pediatric Medicine summarizes the department’s mission and goals, stating: “Through St. Jude Global, we are taking on the ultimate challenge of tackling childhood cancer at a global level. We are working to create a global health system that is driven and well prepared to confront this challenge.”