Focus on palliative care services
MINISTER OF HEALTH John Boyce has announced that the expansion of palliative care services is currently being addressed in a draft National Action Plan for Cancer.
Speaking at the opening of Cancer Support Services’ 4th annual conference at the Accra Beach Hotel last Saturday, Boyce said that palliative care, though not a panacea for cancer, could enhance the quality of life for persons facing the disease.
He urged all sectors of society to play their part in providing palliative care and assisting with the implementation of programmes that would help the most vulnerable.
The Minister lauded Cancer Support Services for its contribution to health management over the years, and particularly for hosting the conference, which had as its theme: Malignancies in the Paediatric Age Group and Young Adults.
“Childhood is a stage of life when we are most unencumbered by the care and stresses of life. It’s a time when development milestones are attained, a time of learning and a time for play and new experiences. Young adults start to plan families and seek to secure a strong foundation for employment.”
While ill-health was not envisioned during this period of life, and death was far removed from their thoughts, Boyce noted that some diseases struck at any age and cancer was one of them.
He revealed that in Barbados, leukaemia, lymphoma, bone, brain, HPV and kidney tumours were the most common malignancies in the paediatric age group and among young adults.
On average, there were about 10 to 15 newly-diagnosed cases of childhood cancer every year, but with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, 70 per cent of childhood cancers were brought into remission or cured, the Health Minister said.
The Minister noted malignancies in children not only altered their lives but it also reshaped the life, health and economic disposition of the entire family.
“It is during these very strenuous times that organisations like Cancer Support Services and its highly qualified and dependable team can make that period less burdensome for the caregiver and patient…I am very grateful for these bodies of caring persons.”
Boyce said he expected the conference to stimulate discussion and enhance knowledge on best practices on holistic cancer treatment and support services, not only for minors and young adults, but also for their families and the wider society. (BGIS)