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Health News Sat, 21 Feb 2009

Include cancer treatment in health insurance - GHAPACC

Accra, Feb 21, GNA - Ghanaian Parents whose children had suffered various childhood cancers have appealed to the government to include cancer treatment in the list of diseases covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme.

The parents who have come together to form an association to fight a common interest on the disease held that childhood cancer places enormous financial and emotional strain on the family, especially as it is currently not covered by the scheme. In his remarks at the formal launch of the Ghana Parents Association for Childhood Cancers (GHAPACC) in Accra, Mr. Kwame Aveh, chairman of the group, estimated that a child suffering from cancer would need at least GH¢10,000 for treatment, adding that the high cost involved had led to many parents abandoning their wards, or discontinuing treatment midstream.

Mr. Aveh said GHAPACC would contribute to the health needs of children with cancer and other life threatening blood disorders, as well as their families.

"Our objectives include making available to parents and families of newly diagnosed children information and logistics of practical use while supporting groups to assist children and their families to cope with the (associated) stress."

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He appealed to corporate Ghana to join hands with the Association to save children suffering from the disease. Available data indicates that the survival rate for children with cancer in developing countries is less than 20 percent. "The result is that (about) 100,000 children die every year because of lack of treatment," Mr Aveh said.

Dr. Lorna Awo Renner, a paediatrician, called for the stepping up of education on childhood cancer for targeted groups. "We also need to be assisted in our role to become effective advocates for access to improve overall care, not only diagnostic and treatment - but also for widespread availability of adequate palliative care for these children," she said.

Dr. Renner said although there was no comprehensive epidemiological data on the magnitude of childhood cancer, it was estimated that about one in 500 children will be affected. "With our population of over 20 million, we would expect about 1,200 children below 15 years of age to be affected yearly," she said.

Source: GNA