Cancers among children in Ghana – The Ghanaian Times has reported that his year 2019, from January to last month – October the two biggest teaching hospitals in Ghana, namely the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital have recorded 328 cases of cancer among children.
Out of this, Korle Bu alone recorded 51% and these were from children under 20 years of age.
Dr. Efua Commeh who is the Deputy Programme Manager of Non-Communicable Diseases Control of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), revealed this at a conference on childhood cancer.
The stakeholder’s conference was held in Accra.
In addition, she further revealed that the number of children who suffered the disease each year ranged from 1,000 to 1,300
Dr. Commeh, giving out statistics from the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital mentioned that the hospital recorded almost 170 cancer cases every year which were new cases with Lymphoma. Lymphoma accordingly is a condition that affected one’s immunity and this was the leading cause of mortality among children.
Giving staggering statistics on other conditions and how their percentages of contributing to childhood mortalities, she stated Leukemia as 16%, Wilms 14% and then Retinoblastoma as 12.5%.
According to Dr. Commeh, the country could only boast of 6 trained oncologists with radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments available in only two centers (KBTH and KATH).
“Currently, we have about five health facilities providing pediatric oncology services. The specialty is being endangered because we do not even have nurses and doctors training in pediatrics and child health compared to other specialties.”
She urged parents to search out for early signs in their children as a change in eye color, swellings on parts of the body and persistent feverishness, among others.
The then called on stakeholders to get involved and then called for a decentralization of services for better social support systems to affected families since the condition involved huge sums of money to treat.
“We need to strengthen our cancer surveillance system and research on childhood cancers in Ghana and possibly incentivize the training of specialists in the field,” she said.
On his part, Dr. Earnest Asiedu, the Head of Quality Management Unit of the Ministry of Health who was there to represent the Sector Minister observed in a speech delivered that the World Health Organisation (WHO) to implement the global initiative childhood cancer fits into the country’s aim to achieve universal health coverage (UHC).
“As a country, we have defined UHC as all people having timely access to high-quality services irrespective of the ability to pay at the point of use and we will ensure that childhood cancers are not left behind,” he assured.
Dr. Asiedu expressed the Ministry’s commitment to integrating childhood cancer care into “national strategies, health benefit package schemes to reduce the financial hazards to families affected.”
WHO Country Representative, Dr. Neema Kimambo in a speech read on her behalf recognized that to achieve the Organisation’s goal of improving survival of at least 60 percent of children suffering cancer, there was need to increase capacity of countries to provide quality services to patients and increase prioritization of childhood cancer at global and national levels.