Monday, March 24, 2014

Independent Stethoscope Article for World Cancer Day

I had forgotten that I wrote this article last month for World Cancer Day.  It was published in the Independent, a local English newspaper, in a special medical section called the stethoscope.

I am posting the article below as well as the link,

Over 200 000 children develop cancer worldwide each year. 80% of these children live in low or
middle-income countries where access to effective treatments is extremely limited and survival
rates are as low as 5%. In Bangladesh, 8000 children will develop cancer each year, with
prompt and effective treatment 80% would be cured. Unfortunately, the majority of these
children do not receive any cancer treatment because fewer than 10% will be diagnosed before
they die.      

The recently released Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of
Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) published by the World Health Organization (WHO) calls
on governments to develop strategies for the treatment of cancer to prevent premature
mortality. Furthermore, as cure may not always be possible, the WHO strategy also advocates
for the integration of palliative care and pain relief into the care of all patients with cancer.
Although cancer in adults is often due to behavioral or dietary risks, the cause of the majority of
cancer in children is not known.

Cancer treatments for children are often relatively simple, using inexpensive medications and
procedures that have been available for many years. A key strategy to improve the survival of
children with cancer in Bangladesh is to improve the rate of early detection of cancer, as many
cases of childhood cancer are diagnosed only when the cancer has advanced beyond when
cure is possible. Public education and awareness campaigns are key to ensuring early

Many doctors and nurses in Bangladesh are unaware that there are effective treatments for
childhood cancer. Health care professionals need to be educated about childhood cancer and
its early warning signs.

Twinning partnerships, linking hospitals in resource poor countries, like Bangladesh, with
experienced childhood cancer hospitals in high-income countries, allows medical expertise to
be shared between professionals in the twining partnership, leading to an increased ability to
treat children with cancer.

World Child Cancer is a charity that works to improve the diagnosis, treatment and care of
children with cancer in low and middle-income countries. World Child Cancer works in
Bangladesh, facilitating a twinning partnership between the children’s cancer department at
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and experts from University College London in
the United Kingdom and British Columbia Children’s Hospital in Canada.

World Child Cancer also concentrates on ensuring that children have access to palliative care.
Palliative care for children is care focused on relieving physical, psychological, and emotional
suffering by providing holistic support to children and their families.

Palliative care for children should start when a child is diagnosed with cancer and should be
integrated with curative cancer therapy. The relief of pain and other symptoms is fundamental to
good cancer care.
Together these strategies can help to improve the lives of children in Bangladesh with cancer. 
Dedicated to World Cancer Day

Parents' Meeting for World Cancer day, all children received gifts of stuffed animals!

March for World Cancer Day

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