Materia Medica Malaysiana

October 26, 2007

Three children down with cancer every day

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:22 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: At least three children are diagnosed with cancer every day in the country.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said some 1,200 cases of childhood cancer were reported to the National Cancer Registry each year.
What was even more worrying, he said, was that parents were often in a state of denial and this led to delays in treating the children.
Parents are often, and understandably so, in a state of denial that their children are suffering from cancer.
“As a result, they hop from doctor to doctor and seek alternative therapies.
“Many of them finally do come back, but the tumour would already be in quite an advanced stage and the child would already be in a bad state,” Dr Chua said after launching the Blue Ribbon Campaign at Menara Celcom here.
The effort is aimed at raising awareness of child cancer in Malaysia and to help affected children and their families, particularly those with financial constraints.
“Based on the data collected from 2003 to 2005, the top five childhood cancers in the country are leukaemia (40 per cent), lymphomas (10 per cent), central nervous system tumours (nine per cent), germ cell tumours (six per cent) and soft tissue sarcomas (five per cent),” Dr Chua said.
He also urged paediatric oncologists to counsel parents regarding the nature and treatment of childhood cancers.
The minister said paediatric oncology services were now available in 11 centres throughout the country, six of them under the Health Ministry, three in the universities and two with the private sector.
At a press conference later, Dr Chua said there were currently 19 paediatric oncologists in the country.
“Out of this, 17 are with the government while two are with the private sector.”
Dr Chua said treatment costs at public hospitals were affordable because of subsidies from the government.
“The maximum that a non-school-going child has to pay is RM500 per admission, regardless of the length of stay.
“Those attending our day-care centres for chemotheraphy are charged only RM50 per visit.
“Even so, many of them are referred to our Medical Social Welfare Services for exemption if they cannot afford it,” he said.
Dr Chua added that patients could seek help from the government under the Medical Assistance Fund to buy medication and equipment such as prosthesis.
He had earlier said in his speech that the money from the fund was for long-term medical treatment of chronic diseases, including cancers.
“Since it was set up in 2005, with a total allocation of RM45 million to date, RM23.6 million had been spent for the benefit of 1,702 applicants,” he said.

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