Professor Lorna Awo Renner, the Head of Paediatric Oncology Unit Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, has called for the inclusion of childhood cancer treatment onto the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to save children.
Prof Renner, who doubles as a Lecturer at the University Ghana School of Medicine and Dentistry, said rates were high as childhood cancer treatment was not covered by the scheme thereby, making the cost prohibitive for families.
She said children with cancers were vulnerable and there was the need for the country to ensure the right resources were put in place for treatment to safeguard their future.
Prof. Renner was speaking at an annual stakeholders meeting of the Union Bank of Switzerland Optimus Foundation (UBS-OF) project in collaboration with World Child Cancer in Accra.
She said the most effective strategies for economic growth was to invest in the developmental growth of at-risk young children.
Prof Renner appealed to authorities to safeguard the future of children with cancer by putting in place the right resources.
The meeting was to share ideas and recommendations on how best to improve paediatric oncology to reach children in several countries to have a regional impact.
Research has indicated that over 1,300 children are expected to develop cancer annually in Ghana, despite this figure, there are only two hospitals available to provide children with cancer treatment and care.
This is due to the inadequate trained paediatric oncology doctors.
Mr Jon Rosser, the Chief Executive Officer, World Child Cancer, speaking at the meeting said the three year UBS-OF project had come at an opportune time to improve the activities of these hospitals.
The project, which commenced in January would develop Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital into a Centre of Excellence and lead for regional training to improve diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Using evidence-based training, the project would also raise awareness on early signs of childhood cancer, as well as increase rate of diagnosis, he added.
"The research and dissemination will ensure learning informs future interventions, and that the projects reach is widened to impact children across Africa," he said.
According to Mr Rosser, the project would as well develop specialized workforce, improve services, and enhance access to treatment.
He said with an annual reported cases of 250-300 since the programme began, the project has developed the capacity of 28 paediatric surgeons and nurses in Ghana to use laparoscopy techniques and improve treatment and care of children.
Dr Dennis Laryea, Project Manager Non Communicable Disease of the Ghana Health Service, commended World Child Cancer and its partners for the project and asked for better ways for data collection.
He said this was important as the lack of data on the disease itself was a major challenge, making it difficult for effective treatment.
Dr Laryea, also called for an improvement in human resource at that specialised facilities to be able to effectively diagnose, suspect and make proper referrals.
He said this was a good initiative and asked for structures to be put in place to ensure sustainability.
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