Closing the pediatric cancer survival gap

Pediatric cancer care at the UBS Optimus Foundation

UBS clients support organizations that partner with governments to create replicable models that increase pediatric cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Meet nurse Pat from the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra

Despite being technically retired, she goes above and beyond in her role every day to make the lives of five-year-old Tiwo and the many other children who suffer from pediatric cancer a little easier.

“Cancer is a heavy load for anyone, but even more so for families in Ghana. Here, families struggle to find the funds to pay for three meals a day, yet alone the cost of cancer. Because of this, it is important for us as nurses to go above our duty of care to not only support the child, but also the families, with the mental stresses of having a child with cancer,” says Pat.

The problem you'll help to address

There has been significant progress in addressing pediatric cancer in high-income and upper-middle income countries, while the number of deaths continues to rise in low-income countries. Three-quarters of new pediatric cancer cases occur in low- and middle-income countries. And deaths from childhood cancer are growing rapidly. Most of these children could survive with access to timely diagnosis and treatment.

There are significant challenges in care provision and policy. These challenges lead to high mortality rates from pediatric cancer, particularly in developing regions.


Child cancers are mostly driven by genetic factors rather than environmental risk factors, but children die due to a lack of preventative measures.


Children are often either not, late or misdiagnosed.


Late or no diagnosis leads to a lack of and delayed treatment access, treatment abandonment, death or relapse.

Policy capacity

Low- and middle-Income countries often have weak national cancer registries, and lack patient management data.

Policy commitment

Low- and middle-Income countries often have weak policy-level commitment to addressing pediatric cancer due to limited research around cost-effectiveness.

Our pediatric cancer care portfolio

Contributing to the World Health Organization’s Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer target to achieve at least 60 percent survival for all children with cancer by 2030, the initiatives within our pediatric cancer care portfolio will lead to increased survival rates of children with cancer in sub-Saharan Africa. With the support of our clients, we’re supporting non-profit organizations to assist governments to increase pediatric cancer diagnosis and treatment by expanding the specialist workforce, training primary care providers to recognize warning signs, and reducing the cost of treatment by pooling procurement of chemotherapies and negotiating access agreements with pharmaceutical companies.

Setting the stage in West Africa

In Ghana we're partnering with World Child Cancer. The goal over the next three years is to establish West Africa’s first center of excellence for pediatric oncology.
This will provide a regional training hub for pediatric oncologists across Sub-Saharan Africa and will act as a model – and generate evidence – to demonstrate how childhood cancer can be treated successfully and cost-effectively in other comparable settings.

Funding from a UBS impact investment

Funding for this project with World Child Cancer comes from philanthropists working with UBS Optimus Foundation as well as the UBS Oncology Impact Fund.

The UBS Oncology Impact Fund is an impact investment in oncology research that donates part of its performance fee and one percent of royalties to oncology research and cancer care access.

For the latter, UBS Optimus Foundation received almost 3.1 million Swiss francs.

We can help you maximize your philanthropy in the area of pediatric cancer care by focusing on strengthening access, capacity and cost effective interventions.

Strategic focus area


Target output

Develop pediatric cancer centers of excellence

  • Support the creation of a pediatric oncology fellowship program for West Africa
  • Support programs to strengthen specialized nursing skills and key sub-specialties (pathology, pediatric surgery)

  • Increased diagnoses of childhood cancers
  • Increased access to treatment

Improve diagnostic capacity of primary care providers

and improve referral pathways

  • Pilot, refine, and scale up delivery of early warning signs training for frontline healthcare providers in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Build capacity of 'shared care' centers to diagnose and refer or treat at lower level facilities

  • Reduced abandonment of treatment
  • Increased survival rates
  • # of pediatric oncologists and pathologists
  • # of primary care providers trained to recognize cancer warning signs

Build the evidence base for cost effective interventions

  • Strengthen research capacity at key teaching hospitals
  • Support the collection and publication of evidence for policy and practice improvement

  • Volume and quality of evidence generated and disseminated
  • Childhood cancer integrated into government policies and plans

Shape the market to increase access to treatment

  • Assess bottlenecks to availability and affordability of cancer treatments
  • Design mechanisms to address identified bottlenecks

  • Pilots of new pooled procurement mechanisms

Get in touch

Ready to start a conversation? Contact our UBS Philanthropy Services team or your UBS advisor today to learn how we can help you maximize your impact.