Experts canvass early diagnosis, health insurance policy, others to reduce child cancer

Worried by the rising cases of childhood cancer and deaths in the country, medical experts have recommended early diagnosis and presentation and strong health insurance policy to reduce the scourge.

They said cancer responds to effective treatment and result in a greater probability of survival, less suffering, and often less expensive and less intensive treatment, especially when diagnosed early.

The medical experts include researchers from College of Medicine, University of Lagos (CMUL)/Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), led by Dr. Adeseye Michael Akinsete and a clinical radiation oncologist at LUTH, Dr. Adedayo Joseph.Other researchers from the University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan led by Dr. Biobele J. Brown and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

They said half of the children who have cancer in Nigeria and other Low and Medium Income Countries (LMICs) from poor infrastructure, lack of diagnosis, lack of access to care, weak health insurance policy, inadequate workforce and absence of chemotherapeutic agents, while younger populations were also cited as a factor.

Akinsete said, “The parents will also need strong social support, while the kids are on admission. We believe that it will be important to search for possible genetic differences among the children presenting with cancers from the different geographical zones of the country.”Researchers from the CMUL/LUTH led by Akinsete noted, “As a first step to improving the quality of care, LUTH designated the first solely pediatric oncology ward in 2011.

“It is an 18-bed ward with a procedure room, kitchen, and play area. The unit uses treatment protocols from Europe, United States of America (USA), as well as International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) guidelines with local modifications.”

“We reviewed admissions, course of treatment, outcomes, and determinants of completion of treatment in the unit over the last 30 months.”The study published in the November 2018 edition of the Journal of Clinical Sciences, official publication of Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine University of Lagos was entitled, “Pattern of Presentation, Treatment and Determinants of Outcome of Pediatric Oncology Cases at a Tertiary institution in Lagos.”

Medical experts have also advocated more awareness on suicide as a global public health challenge; improving knowledge of what could be done to prevent suicide; reducing the stigma associated with it and letting people struggling with it to know that they were not alone.

They made the assertion at the World Mental Health Day (WMHD) held on October 10 every year to reduce the rising cases of suicides in the country. October 10, is a day set aside for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. On the sidelines of the WMHD, the World Health Organisation (WHO), yesterday, said every 40 seconds, someone commits suicide and stressed the need for efforts to improve the mental health of people around the world.

The theme for this year’s WMHD, ‘Suicide Prevention’, was designed to raise awareness on the scale of suicide around the world and the role that each of individual can play to help prevent it.Chief Medical Director, Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, Dr. Oluwayemi Ogun, said prevention wass key to averting mental illness.Coordinator, Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SURPIN), Consultant Psychiatrist, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Emeka Raphael Ogbolu said the need for awareness on mental health was important.