Global health disparities in childhood cancers

Joseph Lubega, Robert L. Kimutai, Murali M. Chintagumpala

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose of review The high cure rates of children with cancer in high-income countries (HICs) are due to the impact of biomedical innovations on children with highly fatal diseases. We discuss why these innovations have not benefitted most children with cancer globally and propose broad strategies to reduce these disparities. Recent findings Over 85% of children with cancer in HIC are cured while less than 20% in many low-income countries survive the disease. Hence, childhood cancer survival is poor globally since over 80% of children with cancer live in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Inadequate skilled workforce and health infrastructure across all disciplines of pediatrics in LMIC are the main reasons for these disparities. Although biological differences may contribute to these disparities as well, many are unconfirmed because they are confounded by differences in referral patterns and clinical capacity. HIC partnerships with LMIC that focus on locally based pediatrics training and clinical infrastructure building are beginning to close the gap. Summary Pediatric oncology is symbolic of the significant disparities in childhood survival arising from poverty, inadequate pediatric infrastructure, and skilled workforce in LMIC. Partnerships with HIC that build multidisciplinary pediatrics capacity and clinical infrastructure are beginning to make transformative improvements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-39
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent opinion in pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • cancer
  • global disparities
  • pediatric
  • Medical Oncology
  • Poverty
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Workforce
  • Developing Countries
  • Child
  • Neoplasms/epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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