Photo: World Child Cancer

Tim Eden - Bond Volunteer Award nominee

Professor Tim Eden, who volunteers with World Child Cancer, has been nominated for the Bond Volunteer Award. Piera Freccero, director of programmes at World Child Cancer, explains why she nominated him. 

"Professor Tim Eden, a UK childhood cancer specialist, has helped to improve and save the lives of thousands of children with cancer in the developing world. 

Tim was involved in the era when, learning from early successes and failures, doctors increased the expectation of survival for children with cancer in high income countries from under 20% to 80%. Those treating childhood cancer began to work closely together and share their experiences – creating the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP). It was through SIOP that Tim met doctors treating childhood cancer in the developing world and learnt of the challenges they faced, leading to a 10-30% survival rate. 

Tim Eden

Most children were never diagnosed, misdiagnosed or diagnosed too late to be cured.  Those who did receive treatment usually did not complete it, most often because families could not afford the treatment. Tim and other members of SIOP felt that having overcome similar challenges in high income countries in the 1960s-70s, children in the developing world deserved much better.  

“We felt very strongly that children everywhere should benefit from what we had learned and how to avoid the mistakes we had made”

Tim was instrumental in helping to set up World Child Cancer in 2007 to support children with cancer in the developing world and implemented a proven model of ‘twinning’ hospitals in high income countries with those in developing countries to assist progress. Thousands of children’s lives have been changed by accessing such support. 

World Child Cancer currently runs programmes in Malawi, Ghana, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Philippines, Myanmar, Mexico and a six-country collaboration in Africa for a common kidney tumour. The programmes help to educate and train staff involved in the care of children, improve facilities, develop locally appropriate therapy, and provide holistic patient care. The projects are owned by the hospitals in developing countries not by the charity or assisting volunteers.

Tim Eden

In the last 3 years alone, over 12,000 children with cancer have accessed improved services due to the work of World Child Cancer and Tim’s invaluable input. The families of these children have benefited from financial support to ensure they do not live in poverty as a result of paying for treatment. Survival rates have progressively improved, and the number of children accessing diagnosis and treatment has increased dramatically. Tim has recruited 11 hospitals and over 60 healthcare professionals from high income countries to create twinning partnerships and volunteer their time to travel abroad and deliver training. Together, these volunteers have helped to train hundreds of healthcare professionals. This has greatly improved care for children with cancer as well as other services in each hospital.  

However, Tim, who remains a volunteer, patron and advisor to World Child Cancer, recognises how much is still left to do.

“At 70 I feel that there is much left to do to ensure that all children with cancer, no matter where they live, can be offered a chance of a cure and reduce the suffering which I first saw over 40 years ago”.