Experts For Integration Of Childhood Cancers Into National Strategies For Prevention

Experts for integration of childhood cancers into national strategies for prevention

Dr Nizam ul Hasan, a leading child specialists in the country, has sought urgent integration of childhood cancers into national strategies for disease prevention and management

KARACHI, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 17th Apr, 2019 ) :Dr Nizam ul Hasan, a leading child specialists in the country, has sought urgent integration of childhood cancers into national strategies for disease prevention and management.

"There is also dire need for easy access of these kids to free treatment that may address their unique needs, encompassing their health, social and economic status besides their psychological and emotional well-being," he told APP in an interview.

Dr Hasan, also the founder of Child Aid Association (CAA) working for the cause of cancer treatment, reiterated need to incorporate WHO's "Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer" aimed at saving lives of kids and adolescents suffering from cancer, by integrating childhood cancer into national strategies.

Dr Uzma Imam, Head of Paediatric Oncology at the CAA's cancer centre in National Institute of Child Health (NICH-Karachi), said unprecedented gains have been made in the cure rates for childhood cancer in developed countries during the past four decades.

This progress reflects steady improvement in treatment protocols, a multi-disciplinary approach to patient care, adequate hospital infrastructure, and psychosocial and economic support for affected families, she said.

"Unfortunately children with cancer in low- and middle-income countries die of the disease for one or the other reasons including late diagnosis, malnutrition, treatment abandonment due to high treatment cost and also certain social issues," said the oncologist serving the kids since 1999.

To a query, she agreed that the health professionals entrusted with their care, lack specialised training and this has to be taken into account at every level.

The oncologist, however, did mention that an educational program, initiated by the CAA for health professionals, has proved to be an effective and attainable method of combating late diagnosis of the disease.

"We are also conscious of the fact that better supportive care is a key factor in improving patient survival hence our outpatients clinic and daycare chemo-bay has to work on weekends too," said Dr Uzma Imam.

To another question, she said 600 new patients were registered on almost annual basis and referred to a recent report published in Lancet Oncology, showing that almost 90% of the world's population of children lives in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) and this is where 84% of childhood cancers occur therefore.

"The burden of cancer is ever increasing in our region and it is one of the leading cause of death for children, with 300,000 new cases diagnosed each year among children aged 0-19 years," she said.

"We, at CAA , feel huge responsibility to continue to advocate for children with cancer to have access of free treatment that can address their unique needs," said the senior pediatrician.

Dr Nizam ul Hasan reminded that the CAA has been dedicated to free of cost treatment of wide range of childhood cancers for past several years and that its centre functional at NICH is fully committed to the cause of free treatment for young cancer patients.

The CAA and its team of doctors and associated professionals were said to be equally committed to prevention and increased survival rates among children suffering from cancers.

Dr Uzma Imam maintained that the CAA knows very well that financial support ought to be an integral part of the strategy since families registered with center are unable to bear the treatment cost.

"Most of the children come from outside Karachi in need of both pallative and curative care," she said in answer to a query.

According to her the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technologists, technicians, social worker and administrative staff at the CAA are fully conscious that much can still be done and that better supportive care is a key factor in improving patient survival.

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