Dear SIOP members and colleagues,

This year has started with a lot of global activity to highlight childhood cancer. It is now 20 years since February 15th has been marked as International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD). SIOP has joined forces with Childhood Cancer International in a three year advocacy campaign on the theme of “#Through our Hands”.  The WHO GICC team used ICCD to launch their technical package of products to support governments to implement the initiative. Our Patron, HRH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, spoke inspiringly at the launch event, alongside the WHO Director General. It is now down to us all to continue to make progress, through the WHO CureALL approach of “#All hands in”.

Continuing the theme of advocacy, the Board was delighted to see so many highly qualified members express interest in the position of Advocacy committee chair and we thank them all. We are pleased to announce that Professor Alan Davidson, South Africa, has been appointed to serve in this position on the Board. We look forward to Alan’s leadership as he plans his approach to this important area and to harnessing the experience and enthusiasm of our membership.

Sadly, 2021 has also seen a resurgence of COVID infection rates in many parts of the world.  We know this has affected many of you personally and led to further lock-downs and challenges to how we offer care to our patients.  SIOP, together with several other stakeholders, has called for governments to include the specific needs of children and young people with cancer in their COVID recovery plans and offered solutions to assist them. A joint SIOP-CCI blog on the same topic was highlighted on the UICC website. Together with colleagues at St Jude, we are also considering the evidence and arguments for COVID vaccination in children with cancer and their carers.

Our 2020 Annual Report summarises the impressive activities of all our committees, working groups and networks. Our new strategy sets the direction for their continued work in 2021 and beyond. We are very pleased to welcome two new staff members to the SIOP secretariat – Tessie Laub, who will support the strategy implementation, and Anelia Atanasova, administrative coordinator.

The Board also gives a warm welcome to the two new Continental Presidents-elect – Professor Jeff Dome, for SIOP North America, and Professor Claire Wakefield for SIOP Oceania.

Considering the uncertainties about the COVID situation worldwide later in the year and the anticipated travel restrictions affecting those working in hospitals and universities, the Board has made the decision to again hold SIOP 2021 in a completely on-line format.  We wished to provide you with certainty for your planning, as the abstract deadline is just around the corner (19 April). We will build on the success of this format from the 2020 congress. The Scientific Committee is working hard to offer a rich programme with many live sessions. We look forward to seeing your research and progress in outcomes and care.

We trust that you enjoy reading the achievements of SIOP members highlighted in this Spring newsletter and find some solidarity in our community in these continuing challenging times.

Kathy Pritchard-Jones

SIOP President, and on behalf of the SIOP Board of Directors