Secure The Future Pediatric Cancers in Senegal

Partnership objectives

  • Train healthcare professionals inclusive of nurses, pathologists, surgeons, and pharmacists to adequately treat and care for pediatric cancers in Senegal

At least 3,000 children will be cared for in sub-Saharan Francophone Africa hospital units with an early stage diagnosis. At least 3,000 children will be cared for in sub-Saharan Francophone Africa hospital units with an early stage diagnosis. Copyright BMS / Secure the Future

What are the health needs and challenges?

Francophone sub-Saharan Africa has a population of 280 million people, of which about 40% is under the age of 15. Approximately 15,000 cancer cases will be diagnosed for children under the age of 15 every year. In high income countries, nearly 80% of cancers treated in the pediatric population have a chance of recovery. However, in low- and middle-income countries, there are still significant mortality numbers in pediatric patients due to lack of resources, health system malfunctions, and late diagnosis. Nearly 80% of pediatric cancers occur in these settings and 40% of pediatric cancers are diagnosed in late stages. Furthermore, there is inadequate training for healthcare professionals to appropriately treat and care for pediatric cancer.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

The Groupe Franco-Africain d’Oncologie Pediatrique (GFAOP) was founded in 2000 with a vision that African children with cancer could and must be treated effectively in Africa by African teams. Several projects are planned under the new Secure the Future programme which started in November 2017. As part of GFAOP’s 2025 Strategic Plan, at least 3,000 children will be cared for in sub-Saharan Francophone Africa hospital units with an early stage diagnosis. 

Project 1: Improve Early Diagnosis of Pediatric Cancers

The detection of cancer at an early stage and initiating immediate treatment increases the chance of cure and recovery. The aim of this project component is to reduce the mortality of pediatric cancers and costs of care by training and raising awareness of health staff on early diagnosis, ensuring pediatric units are adequately equipped to manage disease, and reduce delays leading to diagnosis and treatment. By disseminating information widely to parents and caregivers, it can help with raising awareness and early recognition of “warning signs” to prompt expedited consultation.

Project 2: Offer New Training for Nurses

Two types of courses will be offered to nurses - a “fundamentals” training course for nurses in pediatric oncology who have recently joined the units and an extensive one-year training course for general oncology that will lead to a university degree. The latter course will be in line with the content and teaching methods by West African Health Organization (WAHO) and will enable nurses to reach Master and Doctorate levels.

Project 3: Reinforce Multidisciplinary Care

Multidisciplinary care is crucial throughout the cancer continuum. Although there are surgeons, pathologists, and pharmacists present in all Francophone sub-Saharan African countries, they are limited in number and have competing priorities. Radiation oncologists, which are essential for at least 40% of pediatric oncology cases, are a rarity in sub-Saharan Africa. This project component plans to engage multidisciplinary staff in a 3-day meeting in Dakar ever year with a goal of 90 physicians trained on the development and implementation of cancer treatment. 

Project 4: Reduce Treatment Dropouts and Loss of Follow-up after Treatment by Strengthening Advocacy

Childhood cancers often require multiple treatments over several months and stages, causing many families to drop out of treatment. A retrospective analysis will be conducted to evaluate the dropouts for children treated for retinoblastoma, Burkitt’s lymphoma, or nephroblastoma in 2016 and 2017 to understand the loss to follow-up. A support fund will be created to cover diagnosis and treatment costs for 3 selected units for a maximum of 21 months to address financial toxicities of families of pediatric patients. There will also be an increased activism for a parents’ association and advocacy groups to disseminate information on pediatric cancers, treatment compliance, and care plans.


The creation of a training institute in French-speaking sub-Saharan Africa will meet the current and future needs of pediatric oncology training courses in these countries. This training will create a body of nurses and specialists to improve cancer therapeutic outcomes. Advocacy associations created will also aim to sustain their organizations through raising funds, developing partnerships, and mobilizing advocates.

Partnership information

Company(ies) Bristol-Myers Squibb

Partner(s) CEA-SAMEF (African Center of Excellence for Mother and Child Health), Cheikh Anta Diop University, Le Dantec University Hospital, Ministry of Health of Senegal, Ministry of Superior Education of Senegal, My Child Matters – Sanofi Espoir Foundation, Paris 6 University (DIUOP), Rabat University (Morocco)

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, Government, NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Women and Children's Health, Non-Communicable Diseases

Disease(s) Cancer, Children's Health

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Financial Support, Health System Infrastructure - Development of Physical Infrastructure, Health System Infrastructure - Outreach & Medical Services, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Targeted Population(s) Children

Region(s) Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) Senegal

Start Date 2017

More information Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation

Anticipated completion date 2020