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Cure The Curable

Improving access to proven, cost-effective therapy could save many lives. AfrOx believes that sustainable treatment programmes need to be built in the context of the available human resources, equipment and facilities. AfrOx will focus initially on improving the treatment of childhood cancer. On average only 5% of childhood cancers in Africa are cured, compared to 75 - 80% cure rates in the UK.  However, childhood cancer in Africa, especially Burkitt lymphoma (50% of tumours), Wilms' tumour and retinoblastoma can be treated successfully at affordable costs.  With early detection and improved access to treatment, there is a considerable potential to reduce child mortality from cancer.

 

Projects

  • Improving Childhood Cancer Care in Ghana

    We are working with the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra to improve diagnosis and treatment for children with cancer in Ghana. The Korle Bu Teaching Hospital is one of two tertiary hospitals in Ghana which diagnose at best only 200 cases a year. This means that over 75% of children with cancer remain undiagnosed and untreated. Child cancer is becoming an increasing health concern in Ghana as child mortality rates from infectious diseases and malaria have reduced. This project has been developed in collaboration with World Child Cancer. 

     

    MAJOR CHALLENGES

    - Ghana has only one trained paediatric oncology doctor and no specialist nurses.  

    - Survival rates are very low but exact rate is not known because there is no national registry of child. 

    - Under diagnosis is a major problem with around 800 children going undiagnosed.

    - 20% of children are diagnosed too late for curative treatment.

    - Around 50% of patients fail to complete the full course of treatment.

    - There is no national child cancer registry to assess the problem accurately and provide a basis for research and follow up treatment.

    -Parents are often unable to afford chemotherapy or pain relief drugs. 

     

    PROJECT OBJECTIVES

    - To increase survival rates to above 50% for easily treatable, diagnosed cancers. 

    - To improve diagnosis and access to treatment.  

    - To create a new centre of excellence in paediatric oncology at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra.

    - To develop long term sustainability for paediatric oncology treatment in Ghana.

    - To develop a national model of cancer care for children in Ghana – the first in Africa.      

     

    HOW ARE WE HELPING?

    - AfrOx and World Child Cancer have established a twinning partnership between the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.  The staff from Edinburgh are providing training and mentoring for the team in Ghana.  They have already visited Ghana three times to run training programmes, and they also run a monthly online tutorial for nurses.

    - The project is providing specialist paediatric oncology training for doctors and nurses.  So far, we have provided 3 training workshops, training over 200 health-workers. 

    - Diagnosis will be improved by establishing four satellite centres with trained staff.  Staff from the satellite centres have participated in 2 our training workshops and at the recent workshop in November 2011, reported that the training is helping them to be more aware of the signs of symptoms of childhood cancer, which is helping with the diagnosis process.

    - A national child cancer registry has been established to assess the extent of the problem and provide valuable information for future research.   Our volunteer trainer Dr Meaghann Weaver helped the team in Ghana to set up the registry and provided training for the data managers who are maintaining it.

    - Funding is being provided for chemotherapy and palliative care drugs to support families who cannot afford treatment for their children.  Several families have been supported with funding to support treatment for their children and additional funding has been provided by our local partner, CanCare Foundation.

    - Advice and guidance is being provided on advocacy for increased cancer funding in Ghana. We have supported training for the local parent’s group in fundraising and advocacy techniques; assisted them with designing posters to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer and provided some funding towards public events and media campaigns to promote early detection and treatment to help ensure children are brought forward for treatment earlier.

    - Providing medical equipment.  Donations of small items of medical equipment have been made to the unit in Ghana, supported by our private donors and by a generous donation from the Rotary Club, Largs, Scotland.

    - Supporting the development of public policy.  AfrOx has provided advisory support to the Ministry of Health on the development of a new national cancer care plan for Ghana.

    it is hoped this programme will establish a template that could be replicated in other resource limited countries, particularly in West Africa. 

     

    HOW CAN YOU HELP?

    If you would like to make a donation to support AfrOx’s work, please click here. 

    Any donation, no matter how small, can make a huge difference.

     

    Dr Lorna Renner, paediatric oncologist at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, is the programme lead for this project.  To read her testimonial about the collaboration with AfrOx, please click here.