KidzCan frets over children cancer deaths
Darwandale (New Ziana) – The country is experiencing unnecessary deaths among children from cancer because many Zimbabweans believe the non-communicable disease does not affect children.
Daniel Mckenzie, a representative of Kidzcan, a child-centred private voluntary organisation, said even health personnel had little understanding of childhood cancers, resulting in most cases being presented late for treatment, making it difficult to successfully treat the children.
“People, our communities and our parents from all walks of life do not know that children get cancer, that is the challenge, and because of that our survival rate are low, because of that our children are being referred late, because they do not know,” said Mckenzie in an address to a two-day National Aids Council (NAC) workshop for senior media personnel at Darwandale near Norton. And it’s not just parents and communities, also the health workers themselves.”
Common childhood cancers include kidney cancer (Wilm’s tumour), Lymph glands (Lymphomas), blood cancer (Leukemia), bone cancer, brain tumour and body lump (neuroblastoma).
“We are recording around 350 new cases every year but there is probably an equal number that is not recorded and do not know that they have cancer. When they present late, we are not giving the doctors a chance to do their work. If we presented more children early, more children will be saved from cancer. When they present late in the end we are just managing them, helping them to live a year or two longer and maybe die a peaceful death and maybe die a painless death,” he said.
Mckenzie said the same care with which parents treated their children’s needs such as nutrition, education, social life and well being should be replicated when it comes to their health while the media plays its part in telling the story of childhood cancers and raise community awareness about the disease.
He said KidzCan had helped train two nurses and the matrons at 47 clinics in Chitungwiza and Harare and was on its way to Bulawayo on a similar mission to train about 170 nurses, sisters-in-charge and health care workers on how to detect childhood cancer or make references whenever they were in doubt.
KidzCan also plans to lobby for childhood cancer to be incorporated on the children health cards that parents religiously follow to have their children immunized and vaccinated at different stages of their growth up to the age of five while reminding health personnel to check for childhood cancers as well when the children present at health facilities.
This would ensure that no children will present late with childhood cancer and help the country reach the 60 percent World Health Organisation of reporting the disease to health authorities by 2030.
Mckenzie then took the workshop participants through the benefits of early presentation by giving a list of survivors that include Enhance Hungwe who grew up to work with KidzCan as a nurse before recently migrating to the United Kingdom in search of greener pastures, and has began helping fundraise for KidsCan.
The other is Michelle Maiseni who had one of her legs amputated after developing bone cancer but is now a qualified oncologist.