Cancer is a leading cause of death of children, with 300,000 new cases diagnosed each year among children aged 0-19 years.
Children with cancer in low- and middle-income countries are four times more likely to die of the disease than children in high-income countries.
This is because their illnesses are not diagnosed, and they are often forced to abandon treatment due to high costs, whereas many health professionals entrusted with their care often lack specialized training.
Childhood Cancer is considered a modern-day ‘miracle’ by some within the health circles. More than 75% of childhood Cancers are now curable with modern therapy.
Despite this, survival rates vary depending on the type of cancer and factors such as the status of a country’s health system infrastructure, medical culture, and socio-economic conditions.
Deputy Minister For Gender, Children and Social Protection, Hon. Freda Akosua Prempeh Speaking At The Event
In Ghana, most cancers, frequently reported at the Paediatric Cancer Unit of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, are lymphomas, leukemia, kidney cancers, eye cancers, among others.
With Ghana’s over 24 million population, it is expected that about 1,000 children below 15 years of age would be affected by Cancer annually.
So far, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi are the only medical institutions having comprehensive Paediatric Cancer units, with about 300 cases seen yearly in total by the two centers.
It is against these backgrounds, that Lifeline for Childhood Cancer, Ghana (LCCG), a non-profit organisation that provides treatment for children with Cancer, on Saturday held a Fund Raising Gala event at the Alisa Hotel to continuously offer support to children with Cancer.
The organisation successfully raised an amount of GHC114,000 (One Hundred & Fourteen Thousand Ghana Cedis) in charities to support the treatment of children living with Cancer.
There were chilling testimonies from some cancer survivors and beneficiaries of LCCG activities at the event.
Donations from the Patron of LCCG, Her Excellency the First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, and the Speaker of Parliament Professor Mike Oquaye, who were both represented by Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Hon. Freda Akosua Prempeh, among a host of others, made the event a huge success.
The LCCG is dedicated to making childhood cancer control a national health priority, providing support to families affected by it, creating awareness about Cancer among health workers and the general public, and increasing access to optimal treatment for a cure.
Speaking at the Fund Raising Gala, Prof. Lorna Awo Renner, a Member of the Board of Trustees of LCCG and Head of the Paediatric Oncology Unit at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, lamented that cancer treatment is very expensive, hence there was a critical need to raise funds through diverse activities to provide treatment and diagnosis for Children with Cancer.
“Due to the expensive nature of the treatment processes and drugs, childhood cancer has often led to huge financial burdens on families, and in most cases, the deaths of infants,” she bemoaned.
She further revealed that Ghana was selected among countries by the World Health Organization (WHO) when the WHO set new targets under its Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer – with the aim of reaching at least a 60% survival rate for children with cancer by the year 2030.
“This new target represents a doubling of the global cure rate for children with cancer. The aims of the Initiative are two-fold: to increase prioritization of childhood cancer through awareness raising at global and national levels, and to expand the capacity of countries to deliver best practice in childhood cancer care. Concretely, WHO will support governments to assess current capacities in cancer diagnosis and treatment including the availability of medicines and technologies; set and cost priority cancer diagnosis and treatment programmes; and integrate childhood cancer into national strategies, health benefits packages., and social insurance schemes,” she revealed.
On her part, Hon. Freda Akosua Prempeh underscored the need for children with cancer to be given the opportunity to stay alive through access to life-saving essential medicines and appropriate and quality medical treatments.
“My ministry, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection pledge our full support for children living with cancer. I want to assure LCCG that you have the full support of the First Lady Rebecca Akfuo-Addo since she is passionate about the welfare of children and has personally been actively involved in various projects that provide care for children,” the minister assured.
Hon. Freda Prempeh commended LCCG for this initiative meant to touch families and the lives of children affected by cancer.