World Child Cancer has been working in Ghana since 2013 to improve the outcomes of young cancer patients. When it started its work in the country, around 1,500 children developed cancer each year but there was just one cancer nurse, six beds for cancer patients and one paediatric oncologist. Just 20 per cent of patients survived treatment.
By teaming up with the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh to create a centre of excellence in Ghana to train paediatric oncologists, by training staff to spot early signs of cancer, and by subsidising treatment and providing accommodation and transport for families to hospitals, outcomes have improved substantially.
There are now 27 beds available to young cancer patients and five paediatric oncologists. Some 62 per cent of patients now survive treatment, rates of diagnosis have tripled to 310 a year, and the number of children abandoning treatment has fallen from 47.5 per cent to less than 10 per cent.
Ten times more children survive child cancers in Ghana now than 10 years ago.
This impact is also due to the charity creating satellite centres for ongoing care in other hospitals, paying nurses’ salaries in a new outpatient day centre, providing funding for those most at risk of abandoning treatment, and training surgeons in keyhole surgery techniques to cut recovery times and reduce the risk of infection.
The centre of excellence is now training a new generation of paediatric oncologists that will work across sub-Saharan Africa.
The charity also created a jewellery-making programme to provide mothers of the patients with income and a support network.
Moving forward, the charity plans to lobby the Ghanaian government to include the cost of cancer drugs in their National Health Insurance Scheme.
Awards judge Ruth Davison said the project had “very strong outcomes” and judge Petra Ingram said it was entirely replicable elsewhere.
CC reg no: 1084729