By Kwabena Adu Koranteng
The quest for children with cancer in Ghana to seek lasting treatment from Ghana’s health service has suffered a major blow regarding government’s refusal to include treatment of this malady on the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Speaking in an interview with the New Crusading Guide, Dr Sudha Rao, specialist pediatrician at the Department of Child Health at the Korle- Bu Teaching Hospital indicated that1,300, (one thousand three hundred) children had cancer in 2010. And the number continues to increase every year. She said in 2016. The annual figure increased to 1,500. One Thousand five hundred.
According to her, there are only two treatment centers in Ghana, That’s the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. These centers treat only 300 patients a year leaving over 900 patients to their fates due to financial difficulties.
“We get external support but they are not enough that is why we plead with government to include the treatment of child cancer on the NHIS to help save several children from painful deaths.” She stated.
”I am therefore pleading with Parliament and the president to consider absorbing child cancer treatment in the National Health Insurance Scheme to enable us treat and cure more children”, she stated
The Programmes Coordinator of World Child Cancer, George Achempim also in a presentation said the commonest childhood cancers were lymphomas, leukemia’s, eye cancer and kidney cancer which collectively formed over 70 per cent of cancers.
He said Total estimates for treating a lymphoma is about GHC1, 500 for cure, with kidney and eye cancers costing about GHC4, 000.
“A child cured from cancer has the potential to live for over 50 years However, up to 20 per cent of those cases were presented at a late stage and the team could then offer only palliative care instead of curative treatment”, he stated.
. He noted that up to 40 per cent abandon treatment mainly as a result of the costs the families bear.
He could not understand why “Breast and cervical cancers are covered with NHIS and not Child Cancer.
It is estimated that Ghana had a cancer control strategy, launched in 2015, which is yet to be fully implemented, it said.
World Child Cancer is a UK registered Charity -2007Vision: To improve cancer diagnosis, treatment and care for children across the developing world. First project country: Malawi (2009) currently projects: Bangladesh, Cameroon, Colombia, Ghana, Malawi, Myanmar (Burma) and The Philippines AHOPCA – 7 country network in Central America. Childhood cancer which was almost lethal disease 60 years ago today, has 80% long term cure in highly developed countries due to Early, accurate diagnosis, Access to appropriate treatment and Adequate supportive care.
Using global estimates, about 1,000 children below 15 years of age expected affected yearly in Ghana.