By: Hannah Dadzie
Stakeholders in the Health Sector have called for the creation of more centers in hospitals across the country for the treatment of childhood cancer.
At a National Conversation Forum on Childhood Cancers in Accra, the stakeholders noted that access to treatment facilities is a major challenge which sometimes lead to the death of lots of children with the disease.
Special Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr. Baffour Awuah called for support from organizations to complement the government’s efforts to develop quality and affordable cancer centers across the country for easy accessibility.
He said discussions are ongoing for pediatric cancers to be captured onto the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS.
According to the World Health Organization, each year, approximately 400 thousand children and adolescents from 0-19 years are diagnosed with cancer. The most common types of childhood cancers include leukemia and brain cancer.
Stakeholders at the forum stressed that creating diagnostic centers across the country is the way to go, in winning the fight as well as avoiding the suffering children go through with such condition.
They said families should ignore the myths associated with childhood cancers and seek early diagnosis and treatment. The Special Advisor to the Minister of Health and an Oncologist, Dr. Baffour Awuah called for more awareness creation, saying childhood cancers have been neglected for many years.
“Cancers have been neglected over the years, and more especially in childhood cancers. In Ghana we have two major centers that manage childhood cancers and as an oncologist at times I ask myself if you are not in Kumasi, Accra and you have to travel all the way from Bawku, Half Assini, Wa to these centers and you don’t have a means of transport, what happens to you” Dr. Awuah said.
Executive Secretary of Lifeline for Childhood Cancer Ghana, Dr. Akua Sarpong called for strong family support.
She also spoke against abandoning treatment and called for regular review of cancer patients for speedy recovery.
“When they come and they have to see the money that they have to give away just to start the treatment, it’s overwhelming, so most of the time they go and never come back. And unfortunately sometimes parents have to make their decision to just let their children die because they can’t simply afford treatment, so that is why we get a lot of these abandonment. cases, early diagnosis is everything ” Dr. Sarpong noted.
A childhood cancer survivor, Nelly Quaco shared her ordeal when she was diagnosed with eye cancer.
” I was seven years getting to eight years, I woke up one morning and found out that there was an insect bite in one of my eyes and that was all, so my mum took me to the hospital. My eye ball was out, the tumor has taken over almost all my face, and my stomach has protruded like a pregnant woman. I went through a whole lot, I can’t go to school, I can’t go anywhere, I am always in the house. Even as at that time that treatment was free, parents always run away with their kids because they call them from the house that they have a spiritualist who can help them’’, according to Madam Quaco .
The Regional Coordinator, Sub Saharan African, World Child Cancer, Emmanuel Ayire Adongo said though a lot of efforts have been put in place to support treatment, all hands must still be on deck as early diagnosis improves chances of survival.