Improving Cancer Outcomes for Children in Vietnam

Every year, International Childhood Cancer Day is observed on February 15 to raise awareness about childhood cancer, and to express support for children with cancer, the survivors, and their families. Join us on this International Childhood Cancer Day as we acknowledge the existing disparities in care and outcomes for children with cancer. Our Asin regional hub in Vietnam is focused on pediatric cancer, and we are grateful for our partner institutions– the University of Medicine of Ho Chi Minh City and regional pediatric hospitals providing cancer care – as we work together to improve childhood cancer outcomes.

Please see below update from our collaboration in Vietnam to learn more!


UCSF Global Cancer Program and Vietnamese collaborators at City Children’s Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City

While childhood cancer outcomes have greatly improved in high-income settings, burden and survival remains poor in low-resource settings. In high-income settings, where comprehensive services are generally accessible, more than 80% of children with cancer are cured. In low- resource settings, less than 30% are cured. [1],[2] While many factors contribute to these poor outcomes, coordinated regional efforts have demonstrated that survival may be significantly improved with comprehensive programmatic approaches focused on education, training, research, data management, clinical management, and familial support.

In Vietnam, the incidence and prevalence of childhood cancer is increasing as under 5 mortality to malnutrition and infection decreases. However, survival for children with cancer in Vietnam remains suboptimal. After years of fostering relationships, in 2019, the UCSF Global Cancer Program officially partnered with stakeholders in Vietnam to address these key facets of improving pediatric oncology outcomes. This program is unique in that it takes a national approach involving coordinated and collaborative support from all key local and international stakeholders that have been working in Vietnam.


Program Components and Achievements





Stethoscope with solid fill

Physician Education & Training

Dr. Michelle Hermiston teaches Vietnamese fellows

To address gaps in education and training for specialized pediatric oncologists, Dr. Michelle Hermiston has led UC SF’s collaboration with the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City to develop the first national pediatric hematology and oncology training program. This curriculum not only provides instruction on diagnostic and treatment practices but also has a specific focus on building quality improvement, research capacity, and leadership skills. This program aims to become self-sustaining in the coming years upon identification of key leaders from the first cohort of fellows, allowing for the transition and leadership to come out of Vietnam.




Nursing Education & Training

Nurses play a vital role in the delivery of care and must have specialized education and clinical skills to promote optimal outcomes meeting the physical and psychosocial needs of the patient and family. Key accomplishments in Vietnam include the development and implementation of the Pediatric Oncology Nursing Education Project, led by Linda Abramovitz.  With over 100 Vietnamese nurse participants, monthly educational webinars provide core content presentations and “virtual nursing care rounds”.  These programs offer interactive sessions with international experts and in-country nurse leaders. A similar nursing educational program, led by Linda Abramovitz and Nancy Noonan, was recently initiated as a part of the National Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Consortium. These ongoing partnerships focus on mentorship, promotion of leadership skills and collaboration between disciplines.


Bone Marrow Transplant Consortium

Drs. Michelle Hermiston, Anu Agrawal, and Sang Nguyen have supported establishment of the National Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy Consortium that includes all 13 centers caring for children with cancer and blood diseases in Vietnam. The consortium meets virtually on a monthly basis to provide education through international content expert lectures, discuss challenging cases, and develop Standard Operating Procedures that are being distributed nationally.


Research & Data Management

To address gaps in data management, Dr. Anu Agrawal is working with partner hospitals to develop and examine the practicality of hospital-based registries to characterize pediatric malignancies.

As part of the pediatric hematology and oncology training program, each Fellow develops and implements their own research project. In addition to building Fellows’ skillsets in research, these projects will produce data to add to the limited literature on pediatric cancers in Vietnam.




Learn more about our first cohort of Pediatric Oncology Fellows in Vietnam here:

[1] World Health Organization. (‎2021)‎. CureAll framework: WHO global initiative for childhood cancer: increasing access, advancing quality, saving lives. World Health Organization. 

[2] Lam CG, Howard SC, Bouffet E, Pritchard-Jones K. Science and health for all children with cancer. Science. 2019 Mar 15;363(6432):1182-1186. doi: 10.1126/science.aaw4892. PMID: 30872518.