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Reducing Childhood Cancers; World Child Cancer Begins Training for Health Professionals in Ghana3 min read

Reducing Childhood Cancers; World Child Cancer Begins Training for Health Professionals in Ghana<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">3</span> min read</span>


As part of efforts to address childhood cancers, about 80 health professionals across the country have been selected to receive tailored training on the early detection of the condition.

The capacity-building workshop organized by non-governmental organization, World Child Cancer, in Kumasi, brought together physician assistants, community health nurses, and health promotion officers to get the required knowledge and skills for improved detection, management, advocacy, and support.

According to data from the Ghana Health Service, the country expects to record 1,200 new cases of childhood cancers annually.

In 2023, newly diagnosed cases were 510.

Ashanti Regional Health Director:
Speaking at the training on Monday, May 20, 2024, the Ashanti Regional Director of Health, Dr. Emmanuel Kwadwo Tenkorang, mentioned that childhood cancers have become a major public health crisis that must be addressed urgently.

“The burden of childhood cancers is very high and a major public health crisis. The number of children dying unfortunately and unnecessarily due to childhood cancers, is the reason why the World Child Cancer have come in, to partner with Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health to see how we can reduce that burden”, the Director stated.

He continued that “the challenge with childhood cancers is that most of the cases we get usually come in very advanced stages and it gets very difficult to manage. We can solve the problem, if we build the capacity of health workers to diagnose, know where to refer to, and then the best practices of management.”

The Regional Director noted that, “with childhood cancers, the output is amazing, if you diagnose it as early as possible and, that is why we must work hard”

Details And Government Interventions:
Dr Tenkorang added that sometimes these cancers are a bit complex and bizarre, and they don’t present like adult cancers.

The government, in September 2023 added four childhood cancers to the National Health Insurance Scheme; a step targeted at reducing the financial stress, many families encounter accessing care.

The four are Burkitt Lymphoma, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, Wilms Tumor, and Retinoblastoma.

Regional NCD Coordinator:
On her part, the Regional Coordinator for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) at the Ghana Health Service, Madam Lydia Owusu Ansah added that the training was timely, regarding the education of the general public on what to look out for, with childhood cancers.

“This project is very timely because NCDs are escalating and we usually get them at the terminal stage where much cannot be done”, the NCD Coordinator observed.

The health participants, she noted are being trained to detect, create awareness, and educate community members on what they should look out for, when they are with their children at home and report to the facilities as early as possible.

“Health staff live within our communities but because some families do not know the signs and symptoms of childhood cancers, children are brought in to facilities late. Childhood cancers just like hypertension, diabetes, sickle cell, mental health, and asthma are part of non-communicable diseases”, she hinted.

Child Cancer Country Coordinator:
World Child Cancer Country Coordinator, Adwoa Pinamang Boateng Desu meanwhile applauded the government and other relevant stakeholders’ efforts, while urging the media to help raise more awareness about childhood cancers.

She further stressed that the nutrition of children undergoing treatment was very vital.

“Literature helps us to know that when children start treatment, there is a high likelihood that their nutritional status becomes compromised. As an organization dedicated to global inequality, we provide ready-to-use therapeutic foods to children in care, so that their nutritional status will be very good, to the point that they can continue with treatment.”

Background Information:
World Child Cancer is a global institution working to create a platform of practice systems in Ghana through a shared care network to improve early diagnosis, treatment, and socio-psychosocial support for children with cancer and their families.

They have collaborated with the Ministry of Health and its agencies, such as the Ghana Health Service, the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), and teaching hospitals across Ghana since 2010.

Story By Michael Ofosu-Afriyie/ PatriciaAma Bonsu, Kumasi