SUVA, July 20 (Xinhua) -- About 20 to 30 new cases of childhood cancer cases are diagnosed in Fiji annually, a Fijian leader said here on Friday.
Speaking at the launch of the 2018 Fiji Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in Suva, capital of Fiji, Fijian President Jioji Konrote said that the most common childhood cancer in Fiji is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, followed by brain tumour and this is similar to the global trend in childhood cancer.
A report released in 2016 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) indicated that the global occurrence of childhood cancer may be significantly higher than previously thought.
The report also revealed that there are an estimated 80,000 deaths annually from childhood cancer worldwide, and an increasing inequality in childhood cancer diagnosis and treatment between high-income and low-income countries. The grim reality is that about one in two of these children diagnosed with cancer are most likely to die.
Despite the 80 percent survival rate of childhood cancers in developed countries, up to 80 percent of most children in developing countries will die due to the lack of proper medical care, Konrote said.
Following the recommendations of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology to concentrate resources in specialised paediatric cancer units, there is an emphasis on assistance and twinning of units in developing countries like Fiji with established units in the developed or resource rich countries.
Fiji has established a twinning program with the Christchurch Paediatric Oncology Center in New Zealand.
The twinning program that was established in 2008 continues today with weekly teleconference with the Christchurch Oncology Unit in New Zealand providing Fiji Paediatric Oncology Unit with expert advice.
The Paediatric Oncologist from Christchurch also makes site visits at least twice a year to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWM) in Suva and the Lautoka General Hospital in Fiji's western part.
This year, visits will commence at the Labasa Hospital for familiarisation purposes and to convey to the staff members coping mechanisms when dealing with Paediatric Oncology cases, the president said.
There has been a drastic reduction in the percentage of mortality of the treatable childhood cancers since the establishment of the twinning program, he added.
Doctor Miri Tukana Thaggard, whose research is yet to be published, said that the mortality rate of children diagnosed with childhood cancer had decreased from 70 percent to 30 percent since the twinning partnership.