Red Cross Children’s Hospital celebrates World Cancer Day
The Western Cape Government (WCGH) is committed to decreasing preventable deaths by raising awareness and education about the global impact of cancer. World Cancer Day commemorated today (4 February) and International Childhood Cancer Day (15 February) is a time for the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital (RCWMCH) to reflect on recent gains made in the prevention, detection, treatment and care of cancer patients in its Haematology-Oncology department.
World Cancer Day, led by the Union for International Cancer Control, is a global initiative that aims to reduce the global cancer burden. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 17 people die every minute from cancer.
Since 1970, the RCWMCH Haematology-Oncology Unit has treated 5 078 children with cancer. Currently, it attends to 5 000 outpatients a year. Children in the modern era are achieving a 73% overall survival rate. This demonstrates the advances that have been made in treating childhood cancer.
The Unit has recently been renovated with special isolation cubicles designed to improved capacity for bone marrow transplantation and a dedicated space to conduct much-needed research. In addition, it is fortunate to have the services of a social worker, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a dietician and a schoolteacher.
“The unit has access to the excellent palliative care expertise of the PaedsPal team which functions as a private public initiative. We are also served by a play therapist and an art therapist (both NGO-funded) and a number of private psychologists on a voluntary basis,” says Prof Alan Davidson, Head of the Unit.
The wider oncology team provides high quality support in all major surgical disciplines (including general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopaedics and cardiothoracics) ,and the full range of paediatric sub-specialties (nephrology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, cardiology, infectious disease and intensive care) serve a vital supportive role.
“Our children have access to neurosurgery with neuroprotective technology designed to limit damage to surrounding brain when removing tumours, stem cell transplantation, various forms of specialised radiotherapy such as brachytherapy for retinoblastoma, and modern pathology and imaging services. All these services rely on the continued involvement of highly trained staff, as well as a commitment by government to maintain and grow them,” adds Prof Davidson.
This progress illustrates that treating cancer requires teams of professionals from a multitude of disciplines outside of clinical oncology. The WCGH thank all of them for their continued support. They allow these facilities to provide the kind of treatment for our patients that makes their difficult journey tolerable.