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NGO raises the alarm on Childhood cancer in Nigeria

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Godsgift Onyedinefu

A Non Governmental Organization, Project PINK BLUE has raised the alarm on the prevailing cases of cancer among Children and adolescents in the country.

The Executive Director, project PINK BLUE, Runcie Chidebe in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja said Childhood cancer is often left on the back burner, because people have subconsciously concluded in
their minds that cancer is a disease of the ageing population.

He stressed that most people do not know that children also have cancer. He said Many people assume that it is only adult women and men that are diagnosed of cancer.

Chidebe, quoting the World Health Organization (WHO) said cancer
is a leading cause of death for children and adolescents globally.

“Cancer which affects children between the ages of 0 and 19 is generally referred to as childhood cancer. Approximately 300,000 children around the world aged between 0 and 19 years are diagnosed with cancer annually.”

The Executive Director however regretted that, unlike adult cancer, childhood cancer cannot be prevented or screened. and is more so unfortunate in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

He revealed that in Nigeria, 80% of diagnosed cases cannot be cured compared to 20% in high income countries (HICs).

He streesed that Improving outcomes of childhood cancer requires really accurate early diagnosis followed by prompt treatment.

“Good news is childhood cancer can be treated with most generic forms of treatment and is usually less costly compared toadult cancer,” he said.

He added, “Avoidable deaths from childhood cancers in LMICs result from lack of diagnosis, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, poor access to cancer care, poverty, abandonment of treatment,
death from toxicity, and higher rates of relapse.

“Childhood cancer data systems are needed to drive continuous improvements in the quality of care, and to drive policy decisions.”

To this end, Chidebe called for more awareness on the disease.

He said, “there is little information as it regards childhood cancer in Nigeria. We need to deliberately organize awareness and data so as to be able to face this challenge head-on. If we achieve success in curbing adult cancers but not children cancer in Nigeria, we cannot
say we are successful.”

He added, “Childhood cancer is as real as adult cancer and can only be stopped if detected on time. We urge parents to report any anomalies in their children to
hospitals for proper care.”

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