After opening their Aloe Igazi Haematology ward in 2013, the Igazi foundation has launched another exciting project to treat the children of the Eastern Cape who have been diagnosed with Cancer, by opening a paediatric oncology ward in the Provincial Hospital.
The Project launch was held at the Marine Protea hotel on Wednesday 2 April, 2014. In the past a diagnosis of Paediatric Cancer, meant a trip to Cape Town for a period of about 6 months for treatment. During this time parents would experience the extreme hardship of being away from the support of their extended family, time away from work, loss of income, escalating bills for transport, accommodation and food, and great distress trying to support their families in the Eastern Cape, whilst also trying to provide emotional support to their young children receiving treatment in Cape Town.
Health MEC, the Honarable Sicelo Gqobana, re-iterated government’s commitment to the people of the Eastern Cape enjoying a normal life. He said that Government is committed to deliver quality healthcare to the people of the Eastern Cape Province and of the country and that such a partnership between the government and the private sector, would go a long way in ensuring that the people of the Eastern Cape Province were properly looked after.
Gqobana said that Government recognises that there has been a rise in Cancer diagnoses and they have been addressing the lack of facilities by opening new wards in the Province.
Amongst the speakers who addressed the audience were local Paediatric oncologist Johani Vermeulen; Paediatric Cardiologist and Head of department for the Paediatric unit at Dora Ngiza Hospital Dr Lungile Pepeta and Professor Mariana Kruger, Tygerberg Hospital head of Paediatrics and Head of department of Paediatrics and Oncology at Stellenbosch University. Professor Kruger also holds the position of the Continental President of African chapter of the Society of Paediatric Oncology (SOIP).
The success rate of treating Paediatric cancer can be as high as between 80 – 100%, provided that early diagnosis occurs. The speakers emphasised the importance of bringing the treatment to the people, rather than the patients having to find treatment in other areas.
A number of outreach programmes are held both locally and internationally to ensure that clinics, doctors and nurses are well informed of the early warning signs of Paediatric Oncology. There are a number of twinning programmes, where a well established unit assists a developing unit, currently the Red Cross Children’s hospital in Cape Town is twinning with Port Elizabeth. Training and resource assistance is provided which goes a long way in building capacity.
It was with great excitement that Johani Vermeulen opened the Igazi Foundation Paediatric Ward Project.
Ward M1 at the Provincial Hospital, has been earmarked as the Paediatric Oncology Ward, in close proximity to the Haematology M7 ward. M1 will provide a sterile environment where children will receive their Chemotherapy free from contaminants and other children with infectious diseases. The ward has bathrooms en-suite, isolation rooms and a dedicated kitchen, all of which are vitally important for the successful treatment of the Paediatric patients.
The financial burden is huge and shouldn’t rest entirely on the government, Vermeulen said. The list of requirements is long, but with the help of government and the public, they are confident and eager to get their ward up and running soon.
Sicelo Gqobana responded to the call by agreeing to assist with the Paediatric Oncology Ward project and invited the head of the Aloe Igazi unit, Dr Neil Littleton, to submit proposals and requests to the Eastern Cape Department of Health, for consideration.
The Eastern Cape Health Department has indicated that they will have the unit staffed, up and running within the next three months.
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