Pakistani pediatric oncologists should work with international health authorities so that they can devise strategies and solutions to improve the care and management of pediatric cancer in the country.
The Prime Minister’s Special Assistant for Health, Dr. Faisal Sultan, said this Friday in his virtual speech at the inaugural ceremony of the 6th Pakistan Society of Pediatric Oncology (PSPO) symposium at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH).
“Cancer is a global health problem and the burden of cancer is also increasing in Pakistan. Children with cancer are the most vulnerable patients in Pakistan, but I hope that our pediatric oncologists will meet the goals of the World Health Organization’s global pediatric cancer initiative to increase the survival rate of children with cancer,” said Dr. Sultan.
World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative Dr Palitha Mahipala, Dr Adil Haider of AKUH, Dr Asim Belgaumi, Dr Shamvil Ashraf and experts from Africa, Latin America and other countries also spoke at the opening ceremony of the symposium and called for to improve childhood cancer survival rate.
dr. Sultan appreciated the efforts of the Pakistan Society of Pediatric Oncology (PSPO) to make childhood cancer a priority for care in Pakistan. He added that pediatric oncologists associated with the PSPO are doing critical work to reduce the suffering of children with cancer in the country.
“Every child with cancer has the right to cancer care and the PSPO is committed to achieving this goal. I am pleased to hear that training programs and fellowships are being organized for the physicians and other health professionals in the field of pediatric oncology. These trainings and programs will certainly increase their capacity and general awareness regarding the treatment and management of childhood cancer in Pakistan,” the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant noted.
dr. Mahipala said more than 1,000 children are diagnosed with childhood cancer in the world every day and unfortunately most of these children lived in low- and middle-income countries where treatment was unavailable or unaffordable for their parents.
“Only a third of children with cancer in low- and middle-income countries survive compared to a large number of childhood cancer patients in high-income countries,” he said, adding that political commitment was needed to achieve the goals of the WHO initiative. increase the survival rate of children with cancer from 30 to 60 percent worldwide.
dr. Belgaumi said that about 8,000 to 12,000 children developed six different cancers in Pakistan each year, but only about 5,000 were diagnosed and barely 1,500 managed to survive thanks to treatment and management in health care facilities.
Calling for government support to increase diagnosis and treatment facilities for childhood cancer in Pakistan, he said the AKUH and PSPO were working with WHO and other international organizations to build the capacity of doctors, nurses and paramedics to fight cancers in children. identify and refer them to specialized healthcare facilities.
dr. Ashraf paid tribute to Prof. Nizam-ul-Hasan, former chairman of the Child Aid Foundation (CAF) and former director of the National Institute of Child Health, who has devoted his entire life to treating children with cancer.