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Experts call for raising awareness to combat paediatric cancer

WT24 Desk
Paediatric oncologists and experts on Monday called for raising awareness about childhood cancer to combat the disease which takes thousands of lives every year globally, UNB reports.  They came up with the call from an awareness raising rally held at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) in the city. International organisation World Child Cancer and BSMMU jointly organised the rally under a UK Aid-funded project, marking the International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Liz Burns, Head of Operations of World Child Cancer, Prof Yakub Jamal, Chairman of BSMMU’s Department of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Department, Piera Freccero, Statutory Grant Manager of World Child Cancer UK, Prof Afiqul Islam, Project Leader of World Child Cancer Bangladesh, Rizwana Hussain, Programme Coordinator of World Child Cancer Bangladesh, and paediatric oncologists from BSMMU, Dhaka Medical College and other medical institutions and hospitals attended the rally.

According to data compiled by World Child Cancer, over 2,00,000 children develop cancer worldwide every year of whom around 80 percent live in low- or middle-income countries where survival rates are as low as 5 percent, compared to 80 percent in high-income countries.

World Child Cancer believes approximately 70 percent of childhood cancer can be cured if the disease is diagnosed early and treated with appropriate protocols. However, today only 20 percent of the world’s children benefit from advanced medical care, according to data compiled by the organisation.

Experts say poor diagnosis, inadequate number of specially trained healthcare professionals and mistaken belief that childhood cancer is too difficult to cure combine to create very low survival rates.  They say childhood cancer, in fact, can be cured even in resource-poor countries and it is possible to save the lives of 50-60 percent of children with easily treatable malignancies with relatively simple and inexpensive drugs and procedures that have been known to doctors for decades.

Experts predict cancer to be an increasingly important cause of morbidity and mortality in Bangladesh in the next few decades. There are 1.3 to 1.5 million cancer patients in Bangladesh, with about 2,00,000 patients newly diagnosed with cancer every year.

According to International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), death from cancer in Bangladesh was 7.5 percent in 2005 and it will be increased up to 13 percent in 2030.

Bangladesh has formulated the National Cancer Control Strategy and Plan of Action 2009-2015 with the assistance of WHO to develop and implement continuum of cancer care through a comprehensive cancer control programme.

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