Dr Uduak Offiong, a Paediatric Oncologist at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, on Monday called for improved funding and health care services for children suffering from cancer.
Offiong made the appeal during a webinar organised by the Okapi Children Cancer Foundation, in commemoration of the 2021 International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD).
She explained that ICCD was a global collaborative campaign to raise awareness about childhood cancer and to express support for children and adolescents with cancer, survivors and their families.
She described cancer as the third leading cause of deaths for children and adolescents across the world, hence the need to ensure that suffers have appropriate support for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care.
She listed the common types of cancer in children to include; leukaemia, brain and nervous system cancer, lymphoma, bone and kidney cancers.
Offiong said early diagnosis, awareness by families, accessing care, clinical evaluation, diagnosis, determining extent to which a cancer has spread and access to treatment would reduce its burden.
She explained that even though cancer symptoms in children were nonspecific, certain pointers could point to a possible malignancy or specific to the cancer type.
” Unusual lumps or swelling on any part of the body, unexplained paleness and loss of energy, easy bruising and bleeding, ongoing pain in one area of the body, limping.
“Unexplained fever or illness especially if associated with pallor, frequent headache, often with vomiting, sudden eye or vision changes and unexplained weight loss,” she said.
The oncologist, therefore, stressed the need for correct diagnosis and treatment, trained staff, health care services, diagnostic facilities and funding, as essential towards addressing childhood cancer.
Earlier, Kemi Adekanye, Founder, Okapi Children Cancer Foundation said the organisation spends over N500,000 monthly for the care and treatment of children suffering from cancer in the FCT.
Adekanye said the support was from family and friends, urging the government and other organisations to support children suffering from the disease.
Also, Ms Ore Ogunbayi, whose husband the foundation was named after appealed for more support to children suffering from cancer, especially from low income families.
” Cancer is devastating, no child should suffer from it,” she said.
Also, the host, Dr Ozy Okonokhua, Head of Policy and Plans, Department of Medical and Diagnostics Health and Human Services Secretariat, FCTA
said more attention was being given to breast and prostrate cancers, while childhood cancer was neglected.
Okonokhua also stressed the need for more awareness, attention and support on childhood cancer.
On his part, Mr Runice Chidebe of Project Pink Blue, commended the the NGO for its financial and emotional supports for children diagnosed with cancer disease and their families.