Accra, March 11, GNA - Mr. Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, Deputy Minister of Health, on Wednesday called for the proper handling, dumping and disposal of hazardous chemicals to reduce the growinging incidence of childhood cancers. "We need to protect children form toxic chemicals which have polluted the environment as a result of industrialization and create more awareness on environmental pollution which has led to the increasing incidence of childhood cancers", he said.
Mr Mettle-Nunoo was speaking at the opening of the 9th Continental Meeting of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) 2010 in Accra.
The conference, hosted by Ghana for the first time, had as its theme, "Childhood Cancer in Africa - improving access to care". Mr Mettle-Nunoo noted that Africa was not prepared to confront the challenges of childhood cancer and called for tougher international conventions that would protect children from the dangers of environmental pollution and industrialization.
"It is expected that this forum would help to address problems such as illegal mining, pollution of water bodies, wrongful siting of communication gadgets and refuse dumps, as well as the use of harmful pesticides", he added.
He urged specialists in childhood cancers to identify and expand their research methods, as well as adopting a united approach towards the fight against childhood cancer and other communicable diseases. "Toxic chemicals increase as a result of development and since we have polluted playgrounds, air and water bodies, adults have a responsibility to commission a research to ensure that a right balance is found to manage the human cost of development," he said.
Mr Mettle-Nunoo commended governments of developed countries who have provided logistical support to rapid cancer units in the developing world. In an address read on his behalf by Professor Max Coppes, Executive Director of the Centre for Cancer and Blood Disorders at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Mr Martin Engeler, President of SIOP, urged participants to motivate and learn from each other to find an amicable solution to the challenges of childhood cancer. Professor Janet Poole, President of SIOP Africa, commended the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for allowing parents to participate in the conference for the first time.
Dr Lorna Awo Renner, Chairperson of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) said SIOP was working to ensure that every region on the Continent was made to understand the cause and dangers of childhood cancer. "The most important message to remember is that childhood cancer can be cured provided the known effective treatments are available, affordable and utilised", she added.
The SIOP Annual Meetings are the most significant scientific and educational events for paediatric oncology worldwide, where physicians of all disciplines co-operating in the research and treatment of childhood cancer share ideas and experiences for improvement in services. The meeting is also attended by scientists, psychologists, nurses, parents and former patients to discuss pertinent developments.