Childhood cancer survivors Freja, Isak and Axel wrote to Annika Strandhäll about what they would do for childhood cancer care if they were Minister of Social Affairs. Their letter went viral and reached Annika Strandhäll, who invited them to work as minister for a day. Together with the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation, the children highlighted what needs to be improved within childhood cancer care, and their message about the need for more resources reached its mark. Annika Strandhäll promised an investment of 200 million euro in cancer care, with childhood cancer as a priority.
With the coming 2018 election, the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation wanted to encourage other parties to stand behind the Minister’s promise to ensure that the pledged 200 million euro for cancer care would be honored regardless of the political makeup of the next government.
Together with Freja, Isak and Axel, the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation developed a new promise based on the Minister’s initiative. They stressed the importance of good care and pointed out that “good care” can mean different things to different people. For a child with cancer, good care always means that healthcare personnel do not quit because of stress or poor work conditions, and that they do not need to worry about moving to a new bed when their whole body aches.
The pledge concluded with a request to the parties in Swedish Parliament to stand behind the promised 200 million euro in funding. This way it would be honored regardless of who was in charge of the country after the election on September 9.
The text was published as a full-page ad in Sweden’s largest newspapers, and party representatives from the Committee on Health and Welfare were invited to a seminar during Almedalen Week, a political event held on the Swedish island of Gotland, to discuss the future of childhood cancer care. All of the parties except one accepted and at the end of the seminar they were encouraged to sign the pledge.
In the middle of ongoing election campaigns filled with tough debates and harsh words, Party representatives across the entire spectrum unanimously committed themselves to the issue of the future of childhood cancer care. They signed the pledge and explained to the attendees, especially Isak, Freja and Axel, how they promised to improve childhood cancer care. The initiative has led to a constructive dialogue between the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation and the parties in parliament, and provided a good starting point for improving the situation for children with cancer and their families. The Swedish healthcare sector applauded and encouraged the children for their initiative and ability to unite politicians on the issue of increasing cancer care resources with an investment of 200 million euro – with childhood cancer as a priority.