Speakers at the 2015 World Childhood Cancer day have unanimously called for the establishment of cancer treatment centers nationwide and the inclusion of childhood cancers in the disease treatment list of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).nhis logo

They agreed that the disease had progressively contributed to the increase in child morbidity and mortality, which necessitated its inclusion in the schemes and scope of treatment because it had become a public health issue.

The Day, which fell on February 15, is aimed at raising awareness to the considerable increase in childhood cancers in Ghana and advocate solutions. It was on the theme ?Better access to care for children and adolescents with Cancers?

The annual event was created by childhood Cancer International, a network of 177 grassroots and national networks of parent organization in 90 countries spanning five continents.

Its causes are unknown, but some children are born with predisposition to develop certain types of cancers.

Environmental factors such as radiation, pesticides and some drugs increases the risk of developing cancer, while some viruses, EB Virus and HIV are also known to be associated with cancer in children.

It is estimated that 250,000 children get cancer in the world annually with 80 per cent of them in developing countries.

Only about 20-30 percent of those in developing countries receive treatment and survival rate of those who receive treatment are usually more than 20 per cent at best because of late presentation, lack of funding and treatment abandonment among other reasons.

Over 100,000 deaths from childhood cancer could be prevented each year if all children have had equal access to diagnosis and care.

Professor Lorna Renner, Head, Pediatric Oncology Unit of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, called for enhanced availability and access to affordable and or free essential childhood cancer medication, including those for pain control, stronger palliative care and modified therapies with less toxicity.

According to her, childhood cancer has no borders, adding that, though it was curable disparities and inequities exist.

Survival rate depends on the type of cancer and factors such as country?s health system infrastructure, medical culture and socioeconomic conditions.

The significant inequities in Ghana include lack of information on early signs and symptoms, adverse socio-cultural beliefs and practices, late and misdiagnosis, weak referral systems catastrophic cost and no NHIS coverage.

?Access to best care for children with cancer is a human right and not just a privilege? Prof Renner said.

In a speech read on her behalf, the WHO country representative, Dr Magda Robalo, said cancer diagnosis shatters every sense of normal life for children, adolescents and their families.

?Alone we make a difference, together, we create change. Together, we can help make life better for children and adolescents with cancer, the survivors and their families? she said.

Dr kwame Aveh, the President of the Ghana Parent?s Association for Childhood Cancers, said the hospital has allocated land to the association for a hostel and appealed for support to build a hostel that would accommodate 30 families, a counseling and support office.

This he said would reduce the untimely cessation of treatment by families, transportation challenges of patients and quick access to the hospital in case of any emergency that may arise during the course of treatment.

?The plan and drawings for the GHC250, 000 project is available. We look forward to a favourable response and a long lasting partnership with caring institutions and personalities that are willing to help? he noted.

Cancer Ambassador, Kwaku Sintim Misa (KSM), pledged to use the media to raise awareness and give Childhood cancers the needed attention it deserves.



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