"Gold September” marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This campaign was started by parents, patients, and survivors of childhood cancer in Europe with the purpose of raising and recognising issues related to paediatric cancer.
This year's campaign will focus on maximising the impact of childhood cancer actions as outlined in Europe's Beating Cancer Plan. The 'Helping Children with Cancer Initiative' is the Beating Cancer Plan's main proposal on paediatric cancer. This initiative aims to ensure that children have access to rapid and optimal detection, diagnosis, treatment and cancer care. This initiative will be funded under the future EU4Health programme to facilitate access to early diagnosis and quality treatment.
In addition, the Beating Cancer Plan also proposes the establishment of a new 'EU Network of Youth Cancer Survivors' to complement the actions under the 'Helping Children with Cancer Initiative', which will connect young cancer survivors and their families as well as informal and formal carers. The Network will help strengthen long term follow up in cancer plans at national and regional level.
Every year in September, the community of childhood cancer champions, advocates and supporters encourage iconic buildings, historic landmarks, monuments, bridges to light up in gold. Cities and towns around Ireland are now being encouraged to get involved and help light up iconic landmarks and buildings in their areas, and to seek their support for this important initiative.
Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune said: “September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and it is a time to focus on what we can do to help children and teenagers affected by cancer. It is vital we strengthen the right to cross-border care for children, adolescents and young adult cancer patients when the best treatment is not available in their country of residence. It is imperative that children and young people benefit from faster and more efficient development of affordable innovative cancer care medicines. There is still a lot of work to be done in this area and unfortunately serious inequalities in access to the best available care and expertise exist across Europe for children suffering with cancer. We will be wearing the gold ribbon this month to help raise awareness.”
MEP Clune highlighted that it is necessary to have measures in place that enable equal access to cancer treatments for all.
Every 15 minutes in Europe, a family receives the devastating news that their child has cancer and over 6,000 children and young people are dying every year in Europe from childhood cancer.
There are 35,000 new cases of childhood cancer in Europe each year and almost 500,000 long-term survivors of childhood cancer live in Europe today. Also ten times less public funding is allocated to childhood cancer research in Europe than in the US.
“These figures show that we must continue to recognise that childhood cancer is very much an urgent health issue. We must look at how we can improve the quality of life for patients and families and build scientific knowledge as well as how we can do more in the areas of research and diagnosis and early detection. Many cancer patients in the EU and Ireland still face challenges in accessing healthcare services and there is unequal access to medical services across the EU”, added MEP Clune.
MEP Clune is a member of the special committee on beating cancer (BECA) and is committed to working to help reduce inequalities in cancer care.
The special committee on beating cancer (BECA) is specifically tasked with evaluating opportunities for concrete EU action, identifying legislation and other measures that can help prevent and fight cancer. The work of the BECA committee focuses on and addresses issues of health inequalities across Europe for cancer patients.
MEP added: “Access for patients to high quality, affordable and timely cancer care is a key element in the fight against cancer. Good healthcare services improve patient outcomes, reduce the suffering and side effects of treatments as much as possible and enhance the quality of life for survivors. Good healthcare outcomes also contribute to the efficiency and sustainability of the health care systems.”
The Gold Ribbon:
Gold is a precious material and since children are our most precious treasures, it is a perfect image highlighting the importance of beating childhood cancer. The gold ribbon represents all types of cancer affecting children and adolescents: it is the universal symbol to create awareness about childhood cancer and mobilise increased attention.
Most people know that the pink ribbon symbolises breast cancer but unfortunately there isn’t much awareness the gold ribbon. This is unfortunate and shows much should be done to bring awareness about childhood cancer.