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Include Child Cancer In National Policies, Health Plans: Dr Thaggard

Include Child Cancer In National Policies, Health Plans: Dr Thaggard
Emotional Sina Kami, the founder of WOW's Kids Fiji still sheds a tear during the organisations fundraising dinner at the Museum on Saturday 2nd September, 2017. Photo:Jone Luvenitoga
September 04
11:00 2017

There is an urgent need to support local leadership through the inclusion of child cancer in national policies and strategic health plans.

Dr Miriama Tukana Thaggard made the comment during the Walk On Walk Strong (WOWS) Kids Fiji Wonderland Fundraising Ball at the Fiji Museum on Saturday night.

“In line with strategic plans it is important to highlight the current gaps in terms of timely surgery, reliance on overseas treatment, availability of anti-cancer agents and palliative care services among others,” she said.

Dr Thaggard added that in the past five years the survival from common childhood cancers such as leukaemia had more than doubled.

“Much of this improvement is attributed to support from long-term bilateral commitment with the New Zealand National Child Cancer Network improving diagnostic workup and planning appropriate therapy,” Dr Thaggard said.

“Currently this year we are actively following up 30 children, 20 of whom have completed treatment and 10 are still undergoing active treatment. It is September now and we have seen 13 newly diagnosed cases,” she said.

Dr Thaggard shared that there are 45 new cases of child cancer every year.

“We are only seeing 15 cases a year, approximately 50 percent. Where are the rest?

“This is probably due to the lack of recognition of cancer in children and the lack of proper infrastructure.

“WOWS has been a beacon in helping all of us (cancer children, nurses, doctors and families) travel this journey and we look forward to their continued help and support.”

According to Dr Thaggard WOWS has lightened the load by providing financial support, in terms of food, transport, drugs and even treats. From her experience she has seen children’s faces light up when they see WOWS visit them at the hospital.

Many came in numbers on Saturday night to support the WOWS Kids Fiji fundraise for children fighting against cancer of which the wife of Prime Minister, Mary Bainimarama, was chief guest.

During the night apart from Dr Thaggard, Maciu Koroitamana shared his 5-year-old son, Taito James Koroitamana’s cancer story.

Taito was diagnosed with bucket lymphoma and was informed by the doctors that the treatment would take 30 months.

Mr Koroitamana said his son started to have a series of stomach aches last year that despite their frequent hospital visits nothing was established to explain the continual stomach aches.

“Then after two weeks of admission Taito had a CT scan (computed tomography) that was when we were told that he had bucket lymphoma,” Mr Koroitamana said.

“We prayed and believed in God almighty because when these things happen we need to encourage each other as God has the final say,” he said.

“We were so thankful to know that my son’s treatment could be done in Fiji and that is when we were told about the WOWS Kids Fiji organisation.

“It wasn’t an easy journey because when he was in the hospital undergoing treatment few of his friends passed away which was saddening.”

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