Include childhood cancers in the NHIS – Specialist Pediatrician

Dr. Lawrence Osei-Tutu, a Specialist Pediatrician at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), has called for the inclusion of childhood cancers in the “disease list” covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to reduce the high death rate.

He described as disheartening, the prevailing situation where about 36 per cent of kids with cancers die at the hospital because of financial constraints, whiles 34 per cent is forced to give up on treatment.

Dr. Osei-Tutu, who spoke to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Kumasi, said this would have to change and must not be allowed to continue.

He said it was time more attention was focused on the disease as the cases keep soaring.

Available statistics show that 84 kids were diagnosed of cancers at KATH, one of the only two facilities providing treatment, in 2012, and this rose to 93, the following year, and hit 134, in 2014.

For the first six months of this year, 67 new cases were reported at the facility.

Dr. Osei-Tutu said there were no definite causes of the cancers – burkitts lymphoma, retinoblastone (cancer of the eye), wilm’s tumor (cancer of the kidney) and leukemia (cancer of the blood) but identified exposure of pregnant women to radiation and genetic trace as risk factors.

He mentioned some of the symptoms as unusual growth or swelling in a part of the body, abnormal weight loss, continuous fever, abnormal bleeding and severe headaches.

He pointed out that about 85 per cent of the cancers were curable if detected early and advised parents to report to the facility any unusual growth in the bodies of their children.

He again urged the people to overcome the widely held belief that, “the cancers are a death sentence” since they could be cured. GNA

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