The Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) Health Services has actively participated at the 13th Conference of International Pediatric Oncology Society (SIOP) for Africa. The continental meeting in Cairo-Egypt rallied researchers from Africa, Europe and the USA to chat the way forward on childhood cancers.
In the series of presentations that featured at the Conference, the CBC Health Services’ Childhood Cancer Programme stood tall, grabbing best positions in two oral presentations, poster and a special recognition.
The theme for this year’s edition of the Conference was “Toward Cure of Children with Cancer in Africa.” It should be noted that survival rates for children with cancer in undeveloped countries in Africa seldom exceed 30% when compared to developed countries where chances of survival are as high as 85%.
Glenn Mbah, Childhood Cancer Programme Coordinator for the CBC Health Services notes that the theme of the Conference was very timely. He says it comes less than one year after the launch of the WHO’s global childhood cancer campaign aimed at improving survival rates for childhood cancer to 60% all worldwide by 2030.
Experts at the Conference highlighted that Cancer treatment though effective, had a lot of adverse effects on patients. Hence there was a need to provide adequate level of support to enable patients safely undergo treatment and avoid treatment related deaths which constitute a major cause of low survival rates in Africa.
In line with supportive care, the conference participants observed that children with cancer in Africa have varying levels of malnutrition at the time of diagnosis and in the course of treatment. As such meticulous evaluation of their nutritional status and customized levels of nutritional support for every child during the course of treatment is essential to enable them withstand cancer treatment.
Suh Happiness, Nutritionist at the CBC Health Services presented the work of the nutrition department in assessing nutritional status and providing nutritional support for child cancer patients, as well as teaching parent to make highly nutritive meals from local food products. Her presentation earned the CBC Health Services an award for best presentation at Conference.
The common challenges highlighted throughout this Conference were lack of access to drugs and qualified personnel, poverty, political crises, treatment abandonment, low community awareness, and insufficient local evidence and guidelines for practice.
Prof. Eric Bouffet and Prof. Laila Hessissen, President of SIOP and President of SIOP Africa respectively, encouraged everyone to share and multiply individual and collective initiatives that demonstrate how these challenges can be overcome in a limited resource base continent.
Throughout the Conference that ran from March 6-9, 2019, innovative pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods were discussed to minimize the adverse effects of some of the most toxic anti-cancer medications. A new African collaborative project aimed at evaluating the current level of supportive care provided to children with cancer across several African countries was also presented, with hopes to develop evidence-based locally appropriated guidelines for improved supportive care. The CBC Health Services Childhood Cancer centers will participate in this collaborative study due to begin later this year.
The CBC Health Services’ delegation led by Dr. Kouya Francine consisted of three nurses, one palliative care nurse and a nutritionist. It is worth noting that the CBC Health Services delegation was sponsored by the partners of CBC Health Services, World Child Cancer and Beryl Thyer Memorial Africa Trust.