Make treatment of childhood cancers free, says GHAPACC

The Ghana Parents Association for Childhood Cancers says treat of childhood cancers costs a fortune and contributes to high mortality

The Ghana Parents Association for Childhood Cancers (GHAPACC) has called on the government to include the treatment of childhood cancers in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

According to them, the treatment of childhood cancers, which costs a fortune contributes to the high mortality in children with cancers, in that, parents are unable to afford its treatment.

The Ashanti Regional Public Relations Officer of GHAPACC, Eric Agyemang speaking with Asaase News during a sensitisation march in the Kumasi metropolis bemoaned that “our biggest problem is that the NHIS does not cover the childhood cancers, their drugs and laboratory tests are expensive but we have no assistance, and so we are pleasing with government to come through for us”.

“What is more sad is that adult cancers are covered by the NHIS, yet we say children are the future leaders of our country, if we do not have it covered by the NHIS, then it means we don’t care about the children.”

The sensitisation march organised by the Oncology and Paediatric Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) with support from ROCHE and World Childhood Cancers (WCC) in partnership with Asaase Radio was aimed at educating and informing residents in the metropolis on childhood cancers, to mark this year’s Childhood Cancer month.

Being the main centre for the treatment of childhood cancers in the Ashanti Region, the KATH averagely sees about 140 patients a year.

Dr Vivian Paintsil, Head of the Oncology and Paediatric Unit at KATH wants government to train more Oncology and Paediatric doctors and nurses to make up for the numbers.

“If you talk about staff, it is woefully inadequate looking at the number of patients we have and the staff we have, we are always overworked”

“Here at KATH, we have only two paediatric oncologist and we have about 14 nurses and the patients come in almost every other day, when they have any form of fever they will come and it is the same people looking after them, it becomes difficult, but we are trying our best.”

Currently, the treatment centre of the Oncology and Paediatric Unit of KATH houses about 12 beds in total.

Nurses say congestion is a real and major challenge at the unit.

Lamenting the inadequacies in infrastructure for the Unit, Dr Paintsil says more efforts must be made by government to augment what KATH already has.

She has also advised parents and guardians to rush their wards to the hospital whenever they see symptoms, emphasizing that early detection saves lives.

“About 80% of childhood cancers are treatable if they are seen early that is why we always talk about early detection, but if it comes in late, then you can’t treat them”

“So parents should come in early when they see any signs and symptoms that they feel is abnormal, they should bring them child to us”

Meanwhile, the World Childhood Cancers (WCC) is currently training nurses in oncology and paediatric. They are expected to complete this year.

The WCC is an organization that supports the diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancers in Ghana.

Loretta Timah

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