More efforts and funds are needed in the fight against cancer, Dr Cyprien Shyirambere, a pediatrician in charge of children cancer treatment at Butaro Cancer Centre, has said.
Shyirambere made the remarks on Saturday during a cancer awareness campaign in Kigali.
The campaign is in line with the ongoing childhood cancer awareness month.
He said efforts and resources allocated to cancer treatment were still low compared to HIV and malaria.
The doctor added that studies indicate that 45 children globally are diagonised with cancer every day of which 85 per cent recover.
But in developing countries, only 30 per cent get treated because they go for treatment late and lack financial capacity, among other factors.
“We think many die without coming to the hospital as they suspect it is sorcery or other factors which reduces their chance of recovery,” he added.
Research shows that children suffering from cancer go for treatment when it is already in advanced stage, but if awareness was created, it would help with early treatment as children have higher chances of recovering compared to adults.
“Health councilors have contributed a lot in tackling many diseases such as malaria and malnutrition, so there is no doubt that they can intervene in sensitising and raising awareness,” Dr Shyirambere said.
Dr Fidel Rubagumya, the founder and director of Rwanda Children’s Cancer Relief, also the organiser of the walk, reiterated that more efforts should be directed toward vulnerable children to access cancer treatment.
Medics say the survival rate for children diagnosed with cancer was for obvious reasons, lower in the developing world, estimated to be less than 25 per cent versus an 85 per cent survival rate in the developed world.
The huge gap in survival rates is attributed to several factors, including poor infrastructure and socio-economic constraints.
However, medics say there is hope to save children from cancer.
According to medics, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of childhood cancers and what to do when a child is suspected of having cancer.
In Rwanda, the most common cancers affecting children are Wilm’s tumor, Leukemia and Lymphomas and all can have very positive outcomes when diagnosed and treated early.