Going into 2021, World Child Cancer hopes to be able to deliver the best possible care to as many children as possible. COVID-19 obviously still poses an obstacle, but our programmes will continue. To help address the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on childhood cancer services and on follow ups and referrals, as well as on the healthcare staff working to treat and care for patients, COVID-19 guidelines, and protocols at the main referral centre at SPMC (Southern Philippines Medical Centre) Children’s Cancer Institute. We will also continue to help distributing vital medication at city borders where shared care facility staff can pick them up and provide ongoing care to their patients.
In the Philippines, World Child Cancer supported 98 cancer awareness campaign activities in 2020 at SPMC and across the Shared Care Centres. We hope that further awareness activities will happen in 2021. These campaigns have been vital to raising awareness of early signs of childhood cancer and expediating referrals to hospital before cancer becomes too advanced for curative treatment. This is an important part of our strategy to improve survival rates.
Advocacy efforts have progressed and are also planned to continue into this year. The government is working on development of a National Children’s Cancer Control Plan, to which SPMC and two shared care centres, NMMC (Northern Mindanao Medical Centre) and DRMC (Davao Regional Medical Centre), are contributing. We are delighted that Dr Dolendo was appointed to the National Integrated Cancer Control Council in 2020 as one of two doctors representing the medical field. The National Integrated Cancer Control Act of the Philippines oversees the implementation of new law. This is a very positive step towards ensuring there is governmental support for children’s cancer services in the long term, and World Child Cancer looks forward to helping support Dr Dolendo in the role.
Some of our local NGOs have continued to support psychosocial activities for patients despite the pandemic. By observing strict protocols we were able to continue carrying out necessary care and celebrate life activities for kids and families. In 2021 we recognise that this psychological support will be more valuable than ever in supporting many families of children with cancer who’s income has been compromised due to COVID-19.
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