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Emmanuel Ayire Adongo, Regional Coordinator, Sub-Saharan Africa, World Child Cancer, addressing the event. Image: ELVIS NII NOI DOWUONA
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has started training health workers across the country to be able to recognize the early signs of childhood cancers.
The training, which has so far been organized for healthcare workers in the lower, middle and upper belt of the country, has involved nurses, doctors and pharmacists.
It comes against the backdrop of concerns among specialists that one of the reasons responsible for the late treatment of childhood cancers was the inability of healthcare professionals to quickly detect early signs of the disease in children. child and, therefore, to refer immediately to the appropriate health facility.
The deputy program director and national focal point for childhood cancer at GHS, Dr Wallace Odiko-Ollennu, who revealed it in Accra last Tuesday, explained that the essence of the training was that workers are alerted to the disease and promptly refer children who have been presented with the signs to the correct health facility for treatment to begin early.
Dr Odiko-Ollennu said this at the second annual memorial lecture in honor of the former rector of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr Jacob Plange-Rhule, who is said to be very passionate about childhood cancers and who has long held the hope that childhood cancers were curable, even before there was confirmation of this.
The conference was organized by World Child Cancer, a UK-based organization present in Africa and Asia, and in collaboration with the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons; Korle Bu University Hospital; Komfo Anokye University Hospital; the GHS; Roche and the World Health Organization.
The conference was themed “The Global Initiative on Childhood Cancer (GICC): Through the Lens of Policy, National Response and Service Provider”, and Dr Odiko-Ollennu spoke under the angle of the IPCC’s national response.
He explained that they see many cases of childhood cancers presented late for treatment and this explains the deaths and the low cure rate of childhood cancers in the country.
He said the main priority for the GHS now was to ensure that community members, healthcare workers and everyone else were made aware of the warning signs of the disease, hence the training.
“The Global Childhood Cancer Initiative is aiming for a 60% survival rate for children with cancer in Ghana. Our current survival rate is 20% and we need to reach 60%. To get there, we have to overcome certain obstacles in our path, including warning signs.
Barriers to Childhood Cancer Treatment
He mentioned other barriers to early childhood cancer treatment in the country such as misinformation about the condition, financial constraints and abandoning treatment to seek spiritual help.
For her part, a pediatric oncologist at Korle Bu University Hospital, Dr. Catherine Segbefia, said childhood cancers were curable or not, cancer cells were bad and expressed hope that the country could come to a point where every child with cancer would have the potential to survive.
The former Dean of the University of Ghana Medical School, Professor Margaret Lartey, said that as Ghana Health Service forms health forces, it should also consider building excellent centers and creating new ones. good referral systems.
Specialized nephrologist, the late Pr Plange-Rhule, who died of COVID-19 in 2020, was described by his colleagues as one who demonstrated leadership qualities, a diligent academician and one of the founding members of the Faculty of Internal Medicine.
Attending the conference were his wife, Dr Gyikua Plange-Rhule, the President of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ghana, Dr John Nkrumah Mills, medical practitioners and childhood cancer survivors and their parents.