Int’l Childhood Cancer Day: FMC Lokoja Advocates Early Diagnosis, Canvases Support for Cancer Management

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By Stephen Adeleye.

The Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Lokoja, has advocated early presentation, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the hospital as the most effective way for curative management.

This assertion was made by the Medical Director, Dr Olatunde Alabi, alongside other Consultants at FMC Lokoja, as part of activities to mark the ”2023 International Childhood Cancer Day”.

The Medical Director said that the event was organised to educate the people about children and cancer.

Dr Alabi emphasised the need for the public to be aware, that up to 80 per cent cancers in children could be cured completely if detected early.

According to him,  FMC Lokoja want the society to know that cancer is a burden which can be expensive to manage in a low resource setting, but curable with early presentation.

He advised the general public mostly parents and caregivers that if they noticed any abnormality, they should quickly present the child in the hospital for proper evaluation and diagnosis.

Alabi lamented that most parents made the hospitals their last point of call, and in most cases the children were presented at a time when little or nothing could be done to save such child.

”Late presentation make the treatment of cancer in children difficult, and may lead to the loss of the children,” he said.

He called on well spirited individuals to help in supporting children suffering of cancers.

While commending the Federal Government for their efforts, the medical director called for more support for tertiary health institutions all over the country to build their capacity, and also help in equipping the hospitals to meet these challenges.

Alabi further urged State Governments to collaborate with federal health institutions so that the affected children in their various States would be well treated so as to  improved survival rate.

He noted that the FMC Lokoja had been very effective in cancer management with enough human capacity, but called for more support in the area of equipment such as CT.Scan, MRI, among others.

In his remarks, the Kogi State Commissioner for Health, Dr Zakari Usman, commended the management of FMC Lokoja for commemorating the day to raise more awareness on childhood cancers.

According to him, childhood cancer has become another public health challenge that need the collaborative efforts of all the relevant stakeholders to addressing the menace.

The Commissioner assured the reediness of the State Government to partner with FMC Lokoja, especially in the use of the diagnostic equipment at the State Reference Hospital in Okene.

On his part, Dr Bernard Ododo, Head of Clinical  Services, FMC Lokoja, said childhood cancer was on the rise, saying the earlier it is detected the better, particularly the childhood cancers.

”The bottom line is that early presentation at the hospital is key to overall good outcome in childhood cancers,” he said.

Dr Ododo stressed that most cancers especially in children can be almost 90 to 95 per cent cured or even 100 per cent if detected on time.

Dr Matthew Durowaiye, a Paediatric Oncologist, said the WHO Global Initiative on Childhood Cancer reports showed that globally, about 400,000 children developed cancers each year. 

According to Durowaiye, it was very sad that out of the 400, 000 cancers’ cases, about 100,000 died globally each year, which is about 25 per cent mortality.

”Unfortunately, again more than 90 per cent of these cases of cancer are from the developing countries.

”There is global inequality when it comes to childhood cancers; the outcome is dependent on where the child lives, country, social economic status of the family, and the health system,” he said.

Dr Durowaiye said the cure rate of Childhood cancers in High income countries is about 80 per cent, but only 15 to 45 per cent in Low and Middle income countries. 

On his part, Dr Ajayi Ajetomobi, HOD Paediatrics, FMC Lokoja likened cancer to a wild fire which started very small until it grew wild before people would be aware of it, stressing that awareness was very necessary to educating the people on cancers.

He urged spiritual leaders to always advised their followers to seek medical assistance early instead of relying on prayer and deliverance.

Dr Ajetomobi stressed the need to ensure social support by including cancers’ treatment in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIA).

On her part, Dr Mrs Taiye Ibiyeye, a Paediatric Surgeon, described the Int’l childhood cancers day, Feb. 15,, as a day for global collaborative campaign to raise awareness about childhood cancers.

She added that the day afford them the opportunity to express support for children and adolescent with cancer, the survival of childhood cancers and their families.

Ibileye, who is the President of Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN) Kogi State chapter, said the program was aimed at improving the health of women and children in the society.

She advocated for a change in policy by government to help and make the treatment of cancers free for children, so that parents could bring their children early to the hospitals for treatment.

This, she said would reduce the death of children cancers and reduce the rate of treatment abandonment for cancers.

According to her, such symptoms include: swollen, bleeding in any part of the body, spot in the eyes, excessive crying or any other symptoms, such child should be taken immediately to the hospital for further examination.

All the Consultants stressed the need for early presentation, diagnosis and treatment for childhood cancers as curative management.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Medical Director officially inaugurated a 17-Member team known as ”Paediatric Oncology Multi-Disciplinary Team” to be coordinated by the Paediatric Oncologist, Dr. Matthew Durowaye.

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