KIDZCAN Zimbabwe has urged the nation to work towards reducing abandonment and defaulting on cancer treatment in children during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
In a statement, the organisation pointed out that there was an over-reliance on traditional medicine, which can result in children being taken to cheap traditional and religious practitioners, leading to patients defaulting on medical treatment.
It said that the childhood cancer survival rate in middle to low-income countries, such as Zimbabwe, is approximately 20 percent, whereas in developed countries it is 80 percent.
“We sometimes do follow-ups on such patients only to get ignored by parents refusing to pick up our calls as they consult alternative solutions.
“It is painful to see the same parents turning up late with the children upon realising that they can no longer contain the situation on their own.
“And then all we can do is send the child for palliative care, which is basically a medical caregiving approach aimed at optimising quality of life and mitigating suffering among people with serious, complex and often terminal illnesses.”
Kidzcan said there were a lot of solutions Zimbabwe could implement to promote early detection and treatment, ultimately improving the survival rate.
“They say ignorance is expensive and indeed the nation continues to pay heavily as the morbidity and mortality rates continue to soar.
“While it is relatively easy to tame other diseases, childhood cancer demands attention from across the divide of race, sex and class because it doesn’t discriminate.
“In a situation like this, the poor often find themselves on the receiving end given the expensive and winding nature of the disease.”