Improving outcomes for children with cancer in low-income countries in Latin America: A report on the recent meetings of the Monza International School of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (MISPHO)-Part I
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The difference in survival for children diagnosed with cancer between high- and low-income countries (LIC) continues to widen as curative therapies are developed in the former but not implemented in the latter. In 1996, the Monza International School of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (MISPHO) was founded in an attempt to narrow this survival gap. During its sixth and seventh meetings, members recognized the problem of lack of affordability of essential drugs to treat childhood cancer in many LIC, and initiated an advocacy program. In 1998, MISPHO spawned a collaboration of Central American pediatric oncology centers: the Asociación de Hemato-Oncología Pediátrica Centroamericana (AHOPCA). AHOPCA members reported preliminary findings from several of the 10 cooperative protocols that are currently in progress. In 2003, a second regional collaborative group was formed that includes seven centers in South America. Twinning programs between MISPHO centers and centers in high-income countries (HIC) have proven invaluable to harness the resources of these centers to improve pediatric oncology care in LIC. MISPHO educational efforts include oncology nursing, supportive care, cancer-specific updates, epidemiology, and clinical research methods. Educational efforts are facilitated by educational content and online conferencing via www.cure4kids.org. Identifying preventable causes of abandonment of therapy and documenting the nutritional status of patients treated at MISPHO centers are areas of active research.
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