Health System Strengthening for Childhood Cancer in the Caribbean

The Pan American Health Organization, together with SickKids and St. Jude Children´s Research Hospital, join forces with local leaders for a Caribbean-wide, multi-stakeholder health policy dialogue on childhood cancer that aims to improve pediatric cancer care in this sub-region. The meeting was held in Port of Spain, 11 and 12 February 2020.

Place: Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Dates: 11-12 February, 2020

Cancer is among the leading causes of death in children under the age of 15 years. In high- income countries, pediatric cancer mortality has been reduced significantly through earlier diagnosis, improved supportive care, and more effective cancer-directed treatment. Survival rates now exceed 80% overall. In the Caribbean pediatric cancer mortality continues to be higher and survival rates significantly lower than high-income countries. As a result, there is increasing interest in the global health community broadly, and in the Caribbean specifically, to strengthen health systems to improve outcomes and survival rates for children with cancer.

This meeting build on efforts by the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative (SCI), established in 2013 to build sustainable local capacity to diagnose, treat and manage pediatric cancers and blood disorders in six participating countries, as well as a regional working group for Latin America and the Caribbean set up by PAHO in 2017 to develop strategies for health system strengthening for childhood cancer. The current efforts are also part of the broader Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018.


  1. To discuss current health system capacities and needs in respect of childhood cancers in the region and identify priorities and opportunities for health system strengthening to improve outcomes for children with cancer in the Caribbean.
  2. To unite health policy makers, medical professional associations, academics and childhood cancer organizations to discuss the perspectives on how to improve childhood cancer outcomes in the Caribbean.
  3. To mobilize the existing evidence base to identify and prioritize key strategies that need to be implemented at regional, subregional and country level to improve childhood cancer outcomes in the Caribbean.
  4. To develop a sub-regional initiative, as well as country specific projects, that with support from relevant international organizations and stakeholder groups, will improve the health system response for childhood cancer.