Some survivors of childhood cancer on Saturday embarked on a walk to sensitise FCT residents on the need for early diagnosis, accessible treatment and political will to support children with the disease.
Okapi Children Cancer Foundation, an NGO led the walk in Abuja.
The foundation’s Chief Volunteer, Ms Kemi Adekanye, said the seventh annual event was to galvanise action from the government, policy makers and other stakeholders to support children with cancer.
” We are advocating and creating awareness that childhood cancer needs attention and children battling cancer need to be supported.
” Childhood cancer is everybody’s business, we all have children. No child should have to suffer from this disease, no child should lack access to treatment, so I encourage everyone to support.
Our major challenge is that of awareness,” she said.
Adekanye, said the theme: ” Steps to Survival” drew experts to educate the public on some signs and symptoms of childhood cancer.
According to her, the organisation has been supporting the treatment and care to children with cancer, especially those from less-privileged families in the FCT and other rural.areas.
” This walk is to educate people on cancer disease and with more people been aware of the diseases, I believe more actions will be taken to support them, have early diagnosis and treatment.
” Government needs to pay more attention to children suffering from cancer in terms of subsidised drugs, initiating policies that will support them, access to treatment,” she said.
Mrs Titilayo Adewunmi, parent of a cancer survivor said: “my son had cancer when he was barely six years old.
” But with support from this foundation, we have been able to access treatment and care. He is now cancer free and is doing well academically as he is now in secondary school.”
Adewunmi, who spoke on behalf of other parents, guardians and survivors of childhood cancer, expressed appreciation to the foundation for its financial, pscho-social, educational and economy supports.
Also, Dr Uduak Offiong, Consultant Paedetric Oncologist, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital,urged the government to carry out free cancer screening for children, improved access to care and treatment at subsidised rates.
Offiong noted the high cost of cancer treatment, cultural, religious and social beliefs as factors that impede treatment and cure for the various diseases.
She said: ” We should ensure that children are diagnosed early. Things like awareness programs, government policies and certain symptoms in children should be screened.
” Also, in the policy, cancer screening and treatment for children should be free, just like we have for adult screening.
” Parents should also be alert, not only for cancer, but every ailments.They should seek treatments in the hospital.”
The oncologist also stressed the need for awareness creation on signs and symptoms of cancer, as well as importance of early diagnosis and treatment.
She listed some childhood cancer symptoms to include unusual lump or swelling, sudden unexplained weight loss, unexplained paleness and loss of energy, frequent headaches offer with vomiting and others.
” The poor health literacy in our country, if at the primary health care level, there is education, so everytime a patient visits the hospital for whatever it is, there should be proper education.
” And if parents or people can have faith in the system they will also be ready to spread the message about early diagnosis and treatment that they went early to the hospital and their child was healed.
” So we need to improve the health literacy in our nation,” she said.
Similarly Dr Ezie Patrick, Medical Director, Silver Cross Hospital, encouraged people to engage in regular medical checkup to ascertain their health status.
” The checks we have done here, we found out that there are some people who planned to go on this walk, but were not fit to engage in it either due to high blood pressure or their sugar level is high.
” So screening is good as it also helps people to know their health condition at every point in time.
” It is very important because we want to reduce the rates of people having mortalities and morbidities from problems that they may or may not know they have,” he said.
He also called on the government to subsidise cancer treatment for citizens suffering from cancer disease.
“Everywhere in the world, cancer treatment is expensive, the burden is now on the society to provide enabling environment and subsidised treatment for its citizens.
“It is one of the responsibilities that government owns its citizens to ensure that some of these illnesses, especially cancer treatment that has high financial burden is accessible to the public,” he said.
NAN reports that other activities include free medical screening and drugs for HIV, Hepatitis, sugar level, blood pressure and others. (NAN)
Source: News Agency of Nigeria