We treat children with cancer in Ghana at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra. When treatment isn't possible, we provide effective pain relief. We do this by twinning our network of international hospitals and volunteer specialists with local medical staff on the ground. The partnership creates a two-way transfer of skills and knowledge to develop locally appropriate, affordable, and sustainable solutions to the problem of childhood cancer in Ghana.
Less than 20% of all children with cancer in Ghana are diagnosed and for those who are diagnosed, survival rates are significantly lower than in developed countries. Low survival rates are the result of late diagnosis, a lack of trained healthcare professionals, unaffordable cost of drugs for families, and a high rates of abandonment of treatment. In addition, the majority of children with incurable cancer die in pain because of a lack of palliative care and effective pain relief medication.
We have developed a twinning partnership between the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, UK and the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Ghana. Local doctors are trained through bi-annual on-site workshops and telemedicine support. The project is in its fourth year, now reaching 250 children per year, and has already increased survival rates for the most common diagnosed cancers to 60% (one-year event free survival). Two new satellite centers will open in 2014 to reach 200 more children.
The project aims to increase access to treatment and to improve long-term cancer survival rates (e.g. five year event free survival) across Ghana. The focus will continue to be on curing easily treatable childhood cancers (Burkitt lymphoma, Wilms' tumor, retinoblastoma, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia), while also providing effective pain relief for children with incurable cancer. The aim is to strengthen the local healthcare infrastructure and to put a National Cancer Plan into action for Ghana.