Cost-effectiveness of childhood cancer treatment in Egypt: Lessons to promote high-value care in a resource-limited setting based on real-world evidence

Background
Childhood cancer in low-and middle-income countries is a global health priority, however, the perception that treatment is unaffordable has potentially led to scarce investment in resources, contributing to inferior survival. In this study, we analysed real-world data about the cost-effectiveness of treating 8886 children with cancer at a large resource-limited paediatric oncology setting in Egypt, between 2013 and 2017, stratified by cancer type, stage/risk, and disease status.

Methods
Childhood cancer costs (USD 2019) were calculated from a health-system perspective, and 5-year overall survival was used to represent clinical effectiveness. We estimated cost-effectiveness as the cost per disability-adjusted life-year (cost/DALY) averted, adjusted for utility decrement for late-effect morbidity and mortality.

Findings
For all cancers combined, cost/DALY averted was $1384 (0.5 × GDP/capita), which is very cost-effective according to WHO–CHOICE thresholds. Ratio of cost/DALY averted to GDP/capita varied by cancer type/sub-type and disease severity (range: 0.1–1.6), where it was lowest for Hodgkin lymphoma, and retinoblastoma, and highest for high-risk acute leukaemia, and high-risk neuroblastoma. Treatment was cost-effective (ratio <3 × GDP/capita) for all cancer types/subtypes and risk/stage groups, except for relapsed/refractory acute leukaemia, and relapsed/progressive patients with brain tumours, hepatoblastoma, Ewing sarcoma, and neuroblastoma. Treatment cost-effectiveness was affected by the high costs and inferior survival of advanced-stage/high-risk and relapsed/progressive cancers.

Interpretation
Childhood cancer treatment is cost-effective in a resource-limited setting in Egypt, except for some relapsed/progressive cancer groups. We present evidence-based recommendations and lessons to promote high-value in care delivery, with implications on practice and policy.

Funding
Egypt Cancer Network; NIHR School for Primary Care Research; ALSAC.

The magnitude and perceived reasons for childhood cancer treatment abandonment in Ethiopia: from health care providers’ perspective

Background
Treatment abandonment is one of major reasons for childhood cancer treatment failure and low survival rate in low- and middle-income countries. Ethiopia plans to reduce abandonment rate by 60% (2019–2023), but baseline data and information about the contextual risk factors that influence treatment abandonment are scarce.

Methods
This cross-sectional study was conducted from September 5 to 22, 2021, on the three major pediatric oncology centers in Ethiopia. Data on the incidence and reasons for treatment abandonment were obtained from healthcare professionals. We were unable to obtain data about the patients’ or guardians’ perspective because the information available in the cancer registry was incomplete to contact adequate number of respondents. We used a validated, semi-structured questionnaire developed by the International Society of Pediatric Oncology Abandonment Technical Working Group. We included all (N = 38) health care professionals (physicians, nurses, and social workers) working at these centers who had more than one year of experience in childhood cancer service provision (a universal sampling and 100% response rate).

Results
The perceived mean abandonment rate in Ethiopia is 34% (SE 2.5%). The risk of treatment abandonment is dependent on the type of cancer (high for bone sarcoma and brain tumor), the phase of treatment and treatment outcome. The highest risk is during maintenance and treatment failure or relapse for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and during pre- or post-surgical phase for Wilms tumor and bone sarcoma. The major influencing risk factors in Ethiopia includes high cost of care, low economic status, long travel time to treatment centers, long waiting time, belief in the incurability of cancer and poor public awareness about childhood cancer.

Conclusions
The perceived abandonment rate in Ethiopia is high, and the risk of abandonment varies according to the type of cancer, phase of treatment or treatment outcome. Therefore, mitigation strategies to reduce the abandonment rate should include identifying specific risk factors and prioritizing strategies based on their level of influence, effectiveness, feasibility, and affordability.

Building a Foundation for the Care of Children with Cancer in Rural North India

One of India’s biggest challenges is to improve its global standing by increasing healthcare access and outcomes for children with cancer, with inferior overall survivorship compared with its Western counterparts. In conjunction with the government’s efforts, private enterprise is crucial in delivering optimal cancer care consistently to its vast and diverse pediatric population, despite existing limitations. This article describes the successful implementation of a value-based, collaborative clinical and research framework by a philanthropic foundation in a rural Northern Indian city to establish and run a local childhood cancer service. It is proof of concept that substantial change could be brought about at grass roots level through resourceful partnerships and reduce prevailing imbalance in pediatric oncology service provision.

Determinants of survival in children with cancer in Johannesburg, South Africa

Background: Childhood cancer, although rare, remains an important cause of death worldwide. The outcomes of children with all cancer types in South Africa are not well-documented.

Aim: The aim of the article was to determine local childhood cancer survival rates and establish determinants of survival.

Setting: The study was conducted at a state and a private hospital in South Africa.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study consecutively included all children with a proven malignancy from 01 January 2012 to 31 December 2016. Univariable and multivariable analyses were used to establish which factors significantly impacted overall survival (OS).

Results: Of a total of 677 study participants, 71% were black South Africans. The estimated 5-year overall survival (OS) was 57% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 53-61%) and significant determinants of OS on the multivariable analysis included: ethnicity, cancer-type and nutritional status. White and Indian patients had higher OS compared to black patients (hazard ration [HR] (95% CI) 0.46 (0.30-0.69) p = 0.0002 and HR (95%) 0.38 (0.19-0.78) p = 0.0087, respectively). Underweight patients had inferior survival (HR (95% CI) 1.78 (1.28-2.47)) p = 0.0006. Patients with neuroblastoma had an increased risk of dying compared to those with leukaemia (HR [95% CI] 1.78 [1.08-2.94]) p = 0.025. Progression of disease was the most common cause of death, followed by disease relapse.

Conclusion: The childhood cancer survival rate obtained in this study can be used as a baseline to facilitate improvement. Non-modifiable prognostic factors included ethnicity and cancer-type whilst modifiable risk factors included undernutrition. Undernutrition should be addressed on a national and local level to improve survival.

Oral Nutritional Supplementation in Children Treated for Cancer in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Is Feasible and Effective: the Experience of the Children’s Hospital Manuel De Jesus Rivera “La Mascota” in Nicaragua.

Children with cancer are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition, which can affect their tolerance of chemotherapy and outcome. In Nicaragua approximately two-thirds of children diagnosed with cancer present with under-nutrition. A nutritional program for children with cancer has been developed at “La Mascota” Hospital. Results of this oral nutritional intervention including difficulties, benefits, and relevance for children treated for cancer in low- and middle-income countries are here reported and discussed.