CHILD cancer charity, World Child Cancer, has been joined by high-profile figures from politics, healthcare, film and TV to launch its ‘It Takes a Village to Save a Child’ appeal, with the aim of achieving the best possible chances of survival and quality of life for children with cancer in Ghana.
The appeal seeks to increase diagnosis rates by 25%, as well as improve access to treatment services, boost children’s nutrition and strengthen local healthcare systems in the sub-Saharan African nation.
As a UK Aid Match charity appeal, every £1 received will be matched by the UK government, strengthening the impact of each donation for children with cancer and their families. Between 2013 and 2016, UK Aid Match appeals have raised a total of £120 million, benefitting over 19 million recipients across 42 countries.
According to the WHO, around 1,200 children under the age of 15 develop some form of cancer in Ghana every year. Though eight out of ten children with cancer live in low and middle-income countries, only 20-30% of them will receive the treatment they need, often due to prohibitive healthcare costs.
To deliver training on diagnosis, care, psycho-social support and end-of-life care, the charity has partnered with Edinburgh’s Royal College for Sick Children and is working in collaboration with WHO Ghana and the Childhood Cancer Society of Ghana to improve treatment protocols.
To achieve the appeal’s aims, 500 healthcare staff across five regions will be trained to recognise the early warning signs of childhood cancer, while 230 nurses and health community volunteers will raise awareness among families through local health promotion activities. A further 630 staff across five ‘shared care’ centres will provide cancer treatment close to children’s homes, helping to reduce the travel costs that can prevent patients from accessing the life-saving treatment they need.
The cost of treatment will be covered for the most vulnerable families, while emotional support and guidance on navigating the hospital system will be provided for family members with children in hospital.
With good nutrition key to improving treatment outcomes, nutritionists based in two referral hospitals will deliver sessions and information packages to an estimated 1,320 family members. Dietary counselling and nutritional supplements will also be provided to malnourished children.
The appeal’s name, ‘It Takes a Village to Save a Child’, is inspired by an African proverb that speaks to the importance of collective responsibility. It is hoped that by working together, the global community can end preventable illness and deaths caused by childhood cancer.
Professor Lorna Awo Renner, consultant paediatric oncologist and World Child Cancer’s Ghana Programme Lead, said:
“The thought of a child dying of cancer is devastating. The thought of a child dying unnecessarily of cancer is an outrage. Yet in my country, Ghana, socio-economic and cultural issues conspire to make it happen regularly.
“Most common childhood cancers can be cured if diagnosed and treated early. This project will transform the quality of life of thousands of children with cancer by improving the accessibility, quality and equity of cancer services in Ghana.”
Jon Rosser, CEO of World Child Cancer said:
“Through the generosity of donors and the UK government, we have the opportunity to make a real impact for families of children with cancer. We have named our appeal ‘It Takes a Village to Save a Child’ as we all have a role to play in helping the vulnerable members of our global community. I would urge anyone who can to donate to and support this vital work.”
Prince Nyamadi, cancer survivor and biomedical scientist, currently involved in the diagnosis of childhood cancers in Ghana, said:
“There is this misconception and this myth that childhood cancer is not curable. But I’m a living testimony. I was diagnosed with leukaemia as a child and even had a relapse, but I went through treatment successfully and I’ve now been cancer-free for over 10 years.”