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COLOMBIA

"Vigicancer" is the first population-based register specifically surveying childhood cancer in Latin America. The data are used to guide planning strategies required for effectively fighting cancer and improving the outcomes of treatments.

A first, partial register

To effectively fight against cancer, it is necessary to have an accurate picture of the age-specific cancer burden. In developing countries, this kind of information is rarely available to be able to assess the existing conditions and determine the type of intervention needed to effectively improve the disease outcome. Colombia is unique amongst the Latin American countries for having the Cali Cancer Registry since the early 1960s, but it primarily contains data on adult cancers.

Vigicancer, with the support of the My Child Matters program (MCM)

The Vigicancer project of population-based childhood cancer surveillance was started in Cali in 2009 with the support of the My Child Matters program.

The purpose was to specifically study the disease pattern and treatment results in children with cancer, in an effort to understand potential correctable weaknesses in the healthcare delivery system that were adversely affecting outcome in such patients.

Photo : A register of childhood cancer enables more efficient management.

Crucial information obtained for strategy planning

After three years, an analysis of the data revealed a surprising disparity in the outcomes of patients who apparently had received identical treatment. Children receiving treatment under private insurance had significantly better survival figures compared to those receiving public health insurance. Poor outcome was to be directly linked to the delays in treatment resulting from the tedious process of chemotherapy approval through the public health insurance system. These delays often also resulted in treatment abandonment, thus further aggravating the situation. This finding has focused the attention of policymakers on the need to improve the public health system and give the same chance of a cure for all children, regardless of their socio-economic status.

Doctor Oscar Ramirez, Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist, Vigicancer program
« The invaluable information gained from VIGICANCER now empowers us to motivate government agencies to plan and prioritize healthcare interventions that will show their impact through universal improvement in outcome of childhood cancer in Colombia. »