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Significant global investment could save 11 million children

Spending $20 billion per year for 30 years would yield a 3-to-1 productivity gain of almost $2 trillion to the global economy according to St. Jude Global director and Lancet Oncology Commission co-chair.

Memphis, Tennessee, April 1, 2020

Man with suit faces forward and smiles.

Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, M.D., executive vice president at St. Jude and chair of Department of Global Pediatric Medicine.

A significant, sustained, global investment in treating children with cancer could save 11 million lives and yield a triple return on investment, according to a Lancet Oncology Commission report published by Lancet.

Global childhood cancer rates are on the rise as more children worldwide survive infancy. Today, more than 80% of children with cancer live in low- and middle-income countries, where they lack access to adequate diagnosis and treatment. Most of those children will die from their disease. This is a sharp contrast to developed nations where survival rates for pediatric cancers exceed 80%.

The Commission report, titled Sustainable Care for Children with Cancer, analyzed the potential return of a cumulative, global investment of $594 billion in three simultaneous interventions. These interventions include access to primary care and specialist care, treatment such as chemotherapy and surgery, and supportive services to reduce treatment abandonment. The result could be 11 million lives saved and a 3-to-1 lifetime productivity gain of almost $2 trillion to the global economy.

“Our findings indicate that $20 billion (US) of funding per year over a 30-year period could bring a return of $3 for every dollar spent. This report should reassure policymakers that a sizeable return on investment is realistic and feasible,” said St. Jude Global Director Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, MD, who co-chaired the commission. “Without this investment to halt millions of needless deaths from childhood cancer, we are unlikely to reach the commission’s sustainable development goals.”

Rodriguez-Galindo is executive vice president at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, chair of the St. Jude Department of Global Pediatric Medicine, and director of St. Jude Global, whose mission is to improve the survival rates of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases worldwide through the sharing of knowledge, technology and organizational skills.

More information:

Lancet press release

Lancet Oncology Commission report executive summary

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To learn more, visit or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.