Include Child Cancer Treatment on the NHIS-Govt. Urged

A passionate call has been made by the Head of Paediatric Oncology Unit of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Professor Lorna Awo Renner for the inclusion of childhood cancer treatment onto the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to save children.

Accotding to the Professor who doubles as a Lecturer at the University Ghana School of Medicine and Dentistry revealed that, childhood cancer rates is high that, its treatment not covered by the scheme makes the cost prohibitive for families.

To her, children with cancers are vulnerable, hence there is the need for the country to ensure the right resources are put in place for treatment to safeguard their future.

Prof. Renner made this passionate call at an annual stakeholders meeting of the Union Bank of Switzerland Optimus Foundation (UBS-OF) project in collaboration with World Child Cancer in Accra.

Speaking further, she pointed out that, for us as a country to ensure economic growth, we have to put in effective strategies such as investing in the developmental growth of at-risk young children.

Therefore appealed to authorities to safeguard the future of children with cancer by putting in place the right resources.

The stakeholders meeting was to share ideas and recommendations on how best to improve paediatric oncology to reach children in several countries to have a regional impact.

Meanwhile research shows that, over 1,300 children are expected to develop cancer annually in Ghana, despite this figure, there are only two hospitals available to provide children with cancer treatment and care.

This is due to the inadequate trained paediatric oncology doctors.

On his part, the Chief Excutive Officer (CEO) Mr Jon Rosser of World Child Cancer indicated that, the three year UBS-OF project had come at an opportune time to improve the activities of these hospitals.

The project, Union Bank of Switzerland Optimus Foundation (UBS-OF) which commenced in January would develop Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital into a Centre of Excellence and lead for regional training to improve diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa.

By Using evidence-based training, the project will also raise awareness on early signs of childhood cancer, as well as increase rate of diagnosis, he added.

“The research and dissemination will ensure learning informs future interventions, and that the projects reach is widened to impact children across Africa,” he acknowledged.

To him, the project will as well develop specialized workforce, improve services, and enhance access to treatment.

This he says is as a result of the annual reported cases of 250-300 since the programme began, revealing that, the project has developed the capacity of 28 paediatric surgeons and nurses in Ghana to use laparoscopy techniques to improve treatment and care of children.

Meanwhile, Dr Dennis Laryea, Project Manager Non Communicable Disease of the Ghana Health Service, commended World Child Cancer and its partners for the project and asked for better ways for data collection indicating that the lack of data on the disease itself was a major challenge, hence making it difficult for effective treatment.

He also used the ocassion Dr Laryea to call for an improvement in human resource at the specialised facilities to be able to effectively diagnose, suspect and make proper referrals.

To him, Dr. Layea the project is a good initiative and asked for structures to be put in place to ensure its sustainability.

Source: Ishmael Barfi

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