Saturday, October 10, 2015

Cancer as a neglected Disease

Several months ago, I was interviewed by Jocalyn Clark, who works at ICDDR,B (International Diarrheal Disease Research Institute, Bangladesh) about childhood cancer in Bangladesh.  Here's a link to the article which she published on the BMJ (British Medical Journal).

There are an estimated 7000-9000 cases of childhood cancer occurring annually in Bangladesh, but less than 10% of these children are seen by a specialist. Without access to a childhood cancer specialist, a child with cancer does not have any chance of cure.  The treatments for acute lymphoblatic leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer in Bangladesh and globally, are relatively simple and inexpensive.  The majority of children diagnosed with cancer in Bangladesh could be given treatment aimed at cure, if these children were seen and diagnosed by a childhood cancer specialist.

Sadly, the majority of children with cancer are dying without access to potentially curative treatment.  Lack of awareness among the general public, that cancer is curable, as well as among health care providers means that most children are discouraged from considering treatment. Primary health care providers or those outside Dhaka, at district hospitals, are unaware that childhood cancer is curable, and often tell parents that there is no hope of curing the child.

The World Child Cancer Twinning Project in Bangladesh, is focussed on providing these health care workers with improved training to ensure that they understand how to recognize and then refer children with suspected malignancies.

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