Fighting the Rise of Non-Communicable Diseases in Africa

Much is being done to try to halt the rise in non-communicable diseases in Africa. My Child Matters program was launched in 2005 as a partnership between Sanofi Espoir Foundation and the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). Its aim is to reduce inequalities in childhood cancer survival in developing countries.

Since then, My Child Matters has supported 58 hospitals and NGOs in 42 countries. In Africa, projects include encouraging early diagnosis of retinoblastoma, an eye cancer. In high-income countries, more than 95% of children with this disease survive and retain their sight, while in middle and low-income countries, less than 40% survive. Early diagnosis gives these children a much better chance of survival and of retaining their sight.

Other projects include an African School of Pediatric Oncology which has also been set up in Morocco to train a wide range of healthcare professionals in French-speaking countries across the continent, and a new cancer unit created in Senegal, with funding for free medication. This has since developed into a national service which aims to provide treatment closer to the children’s homes. Survival rates for nephroblastoma, a common childhood kidney tumor, have increased from 50% in 2006 to 74% today, and the cost of all therapy is now paid by the government.

Sanofi is also acting to help children living with diabetes manage their disease and raise awareness about healthy lifestyles. The Kids and Diabetes in School project is an educational program developed with the International Diabetes Federation. The program includes a toolkit adapted to a diverse audience of teachers, children and parents. It is currently available in 13 languages and has so far reached 60,000 children around the world and in Egypt.