Each child matters

Cancer is the second highest cause of death in children between the ages of one to 14. While statistics show that over 160,000 children worldwide are newly diagnosed with cancer each year, the exact number of new cases each year is not known as cancer registers do not exist in many countries.

Significant advances have been made in diagnosis and therapy during the past four decades and the good news is that childhood cancer can largely be cured if detected sufficiently early. Yet children with cancer who live in developing countries have less than a 50 per cent survival rate, as opposed to 80 per cent for children living in developed countries.

The International Union Against Cancer (UICC) and its members organisations in over 80 countries are dedicating World Cancer Day 2006 to childhood cancer. Under the slogan, ‘My Child Matters’, World Cancer Day will be observed on February 4 and focus on early detection and equal access to treatment, as well as celebrating the lives of children around the world in the fight against childhood cancer.

Members around the wor-ld will join together to organise events, including a wide range of educational activities and fundraising events to educate parents about early detection in the fight against childhood cancer.

“Childhood cancer is more than twice as curable as all adult cancers,” says Isabel Mortara, UICC Executive Director. “To save thousands of children’s lives each year it is vitally important childhood cancer is detected early and that access to treatment is improved in developing countries,” she says. “Currently only 20 per cent of children with cancer living in developing countries receive the treatment they need.”

“The Day not only aims to stimulate colle-ctive responsibility and acti-on among families, comm-unity-based groups and me-dical profession, but also to look for solutions to expand access to treatment in developing countries,” says Dr John R Seffrin, President of UICC.

“Forty years ago, childhood cancer in developed countries was almost uniformly fatal,” says Dr Seffrin. “Vigorous action has changed that picture dramatically, so that today, most children live. In developing countries this is not the case, and the majority of children with cancer are still dying. We need to make surviving cancer the rule, not the exception. The UICC is funding specific projects to help make this happen, and hope others will follow to bridge the huge gap between the two worlds. The time to act is now, so that together we can help save children’s lives.”

The World Cancer Day 2006 brings together individuals in the global campaign against childhood cancer from a wide range of organisations including advocacy groups, patient survivor support networks, voluntary cancer societies, public health authorities and research and treatment centres. Since cancer knows

no boundaries, and individual countries cannot address the challenges of cancer

in isolation, World Cancer Day is a collaborative approach to research, advocacy, and treatment including caring support.

Nepal plans

KATHMANDU: To mark the World Cancer Day, the Nepal Cancer Relief Society has scheduled a number of awareness raising programmes some of wh-ich began on February 2.

The NRCS held a press conference on February 2, and NRCS chairman Diwakar Rajbhandari informed that cancer in children varies from geographical regions, population, age and individuals and iterated that it can be cured to a great extent if identified at an early age.

The NRCS has planned a number of programmes for February 4 — like it will screen the documentary Prayas to help create awareness about cancer.

It has also planned distribution of fruits and sweets to cancer patients in various hospitals, a seminar on the management of childhood cancer in Nepal, and candle-lighting ceremo-nies in various chowks of the Capital and at the Maiti Ghar Mandala at 5 pm, which will be led by a child cancer survivor. — RSS/HNS