Daily Graphic Editorials
Acknowledging caregivers in childhood cancer fight
Ghana joins the rest of the world tomorrow, February 15, to commemorate International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD).
The day raises awareness of childhood cancer and honours all the children and families experiencing the effects of the disease.
It also acknowledges their pain and difficulties and gives them space to process and grieve.
Globally, every year more than 400,000 children and adolescents below 20 are diagnosed with cancer, statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show.
The theme for this year’s commemoration: “Better survival is achievable #ThroughTheirHands”, pays tribute to families and caregivers and the positive impact they have on the lives of children and adolescents with cancer.
This year’s theme ends the three-year campaign of ICCD designed to use the universal image of colourfully painted handprints of children to represent survival rates for children with cancer on a national, regional and international scale.
Considering the fact that childhood cancers affect an age group of people who are unable to think, take care of themselves and take decisions, the role of caregivers throughout the child’s diagnoses, treatment and recovery in the cancer fight cannot be ignored.
Indeed, it takes the caregiver to see the signs of the disease in the child, take him/her to hospital, explain what has been observed in the child’s health to health personnel, take test samples to the laboratory, and when the cancer is confirmed, raise the funds for treatment and even support the child throughout the treatment.
It is a really sacrificial and tiring job, as was described by Dr Nihad Salifu, a paediatric oncologist at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital (see Daily Graphic, Saturday, February 11, 2023).
Accompanying the child in and out of hospital regularly and spending weeks and months there with him/her because the treatment procedure requires the child to be hospitalised means that caregivers have to sacrifice their livelihoods.
The inconvenience and stress of sitting while spending nights by the hospital bedside of the child demonstrates the sacrifices caregivers make.
In some situations, they even become doctors and nurses at home for the child because they have to ensure that the child takes his/her medications correctly and on time.
All these underscore the invaluable role of caregivers in the childhood cancer fight, and that is why the Daily Graphic believes they are worth celebrating on an important day like this.
We recognise and acknowledge their efforts and commend them for that.
But for them, the successes chalked up in the childhood cancer fight worldwide would not have been possible.
While acknowledging the invaluable role caregivers play in the treatment and recovery of children with cancers, it is worth mentioning that the activities of some of them end up either complicating the conditions of the children or lead to their death.
Dr Salifu disclosed that in the middle of treatment, some caregivers took the children from hospitals to prayer camps or herbalists for quick solutions to the children’s problem.
Others, according to her, also added herbal preparations to hospital medications given to the children.
What is more, some parents, intentionally, do not take the children for treatment at the scheduled time, while others also do not report complications, such as rise in temperature, the children may develop in response to treatment.
The Daily Graphic adds its voice to Dr Salifu’s advice to caregivers who are in the habit of doing these things mentioned to put a stop to them because when they do those things they put the lives of the children on treatment in danger.
We believe that it is important for all in society to contribute whatever they can to help children with cancers.
They should also know the early signs and symptoms of childhood cancers and assist parents to report quickly to health facilities for the necessary diagnosis and treatment to begin.
It has been reported that the inability to detect the signs early and seek the right treatment causes problems.
Childhood cancer is curable; let’s give hope and a future to children with childhood cancers.