20 February 2013

Ghana: MPs Call for Inclusion of Childhood Cancer in NHIs

Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday called on government to consider the incorporation of childhood cancer in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

The Country's legislative body added that the inclusion of childhood cancer, which is a curable disease, would help to cut down death rates caused by the disease.

In a statement read on the floor of the House yesterday, Joseph Yieleh Chereh, the member for Wa West in the Upper West Region, said 4th and 15th of February is being celebrated world wide as World Cancer Day and International Childhood Cancer Day respectively.

"Cancer is a major public health problem worldwide and in Ghana the considerable increase in the number of cancer patients is gradually becoming a cause for great concern", he intoned.

Hon. Chereh, who is also the Chairperson of the Committee on Health in Parliament, added that over 11 million people are being diagnosed with cancer every year, which amount to about 12.5% of the 58 million deaths worldwide.

He, however, stated that the total number of death caused by cancer was by far more than the combined total death for HIV\AIDS, TB and malaria.

"By 2020, it is estimated that there will be 15 million cases of cancer annually, 70% of which will occur in developing countries. Reliable data on cancers in Ghana are scarce and are limited to institutional reports.

"Even so, the limited data indicate that cancer has emerged as an important cause of morbidity and mortality in Ghana," he said.

He also lamented over the two main Pediatric Cancer units in the country, which are located in Korle-Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals in Accra and Kumasi respectively.

The former Minister of Health and the MP for Nadowli\Kaleo, Hon. Alban Bagbin contributing to the statement stressed that childhood cancer when detected earlier is curable.

He hinted that a proposal had been submitted to the Ministry of Health to include prostate cancer, childhood cancer and Leukemia to NHIS before he left the office which would be submitted to the august House for approval.

"We should run childhood cancer more than prostrate cancer, curing childhood cancer causes less than one third of breast cancer. I will urge the House to consider the report on childhood cancer first, should these reports get to this House", he pleaded.

On his part the MP for Manhyia South, Hon. Mathew Opoku Prempeh stated that it is of economic sense to add childhood cancer to the NHIS.

He added that there would be the need for government to establish database centers that will help in easily detecting cancers and further pleaded with the government to increase the funding allocated to the NHIS.

Also contributing to the issue, was the Majority leader, Hon. Benjamin Kunbuor, who said so much had been spent in curing cancer than creating awareness and preventing the silent killer (cancer).

He noted that the call for the inclusion of childhood cancer in the NHIS was very necessary because lots of people had suffered from it, and other curable diseases that were excluded from the NHIS.

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