21 May Campaign for Cancer – Cancer in children exists; it can be cured. The Vuka Khuluma Project can teach your community how to fight children’s cancer
Date of Issue: 7 May 2018
Cancer in children exists; it can be cured. The Vuka Khuluma Project can teach your community how to fight children’s cancer.
KwaZulu Natal– A child’s opportunity to receive treatment and a second chance in life should not be determined by geographical barriers. To improve the survival rate, children need to be diagnosed at early stages of the disease and be treated by paediatric oncologists or paediatric haematologists. It is estimated that one third of children with cancer are not diagnosed and never reach a specialist centre for treatment in South Africa. The majority of those who do present have advanced disease and the current survival rate of those diagnosed is around 50-55%.
In high income countries many of the childhood cancers are treatable with a high success rate, however, this is not the case for countries that are not well resourced and do not have access to the right information or treatment options. Childhood cancer is different from adult cancers and has a higher survival rate than adults if treated timeously and at a specialised treatment centre. In South Africa, 1200 to 1300 new cases are reported per year. According to IARC (2015), the reported worldwide incidence of childhood cancer is increasing, from 165,000 new cases annually to 215,000 cases in children 14 years and younger and 85,000 new cases for 15-19 year-olds.
The overall survival rate for childhood cancer in South Africa is lower than that seen in high income countries. This is due, in part, to the lack of awareness of the Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer, as well as myths and stigmas associated with cancer.
‘’Before some South African children fight their disease, they fight some dangerous myths and misconceptions around the causes and treatments of childhood cancer. There are a lot of myths and stigmas that come with children’s cancer and it is crucial to ensure that our community leaders, members, parents, caregivers and guardians have access to the correct information at all times, this could save a child’s life.’’ said Campaigning for Cancer, CEO, Lauren Pretorius.
Vuka Khuluma is a joint project between Campaigning for Cancer and CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation, launched in March 2017. In the last eighteen months the programme has trained over 1900 primary and professional healthcare workers, traditional healer practitioners, community hospices and nursing schools across 6 districts in KZN. Vuka Khuluma have also trained 38 Community Trainers from 9 districts who will now go out into districts and roll out community education and awareness activation events, beginning in the district of Umkhanyakude in the towns of Jozini (on the 15th of May at Jozini Supatrade Spar from 10am), Hluhluwe (on the 16th of May at Hluhluwe Super Spar from 10am) and Mtubatuba (on the 17th of May at Mtuba Power Spar from 10am)
“Vuka Khuluma was conceived to highlight issues that contribute to lack of good treatment outcomes for childhood cancer patients and we hope with the help of our communities we can achieve the objectives of Vuka Khuluma’’ said Adri Ludick CHOC Programme Development Manager
Early diagnosis is critical as this will reduce the morbidity and mortality rate. This can only be achieved through creating awareness about childhood cancer as well as sharing knowledge and information not only to parents but also communities.
About Vuka Khuluma – Vuka Khuluma Programme is a five year partnership between Campaigning for Cancer and CHOC Childhood Foundation which seeks to increase the number of cancer and life-threatening blood disorders diagnoses in children between 0 to16 years, and ensure access to specialised care and treatment for all those who are diagnosed throughout KwaZulu-Natal through awareness and disease education and training.
This initiative aims to address myths and stigmas, increase awareness around the early warning signs of childhood cancer and to provide referral pathways in accessing specialised treatment and care.
The programme consists of five strategies that run parallel with the sole aim of addressing the challenges communities face when it comes to the fight against childhood cancer.
These are the five strategies the organisations plan to rollout:
- Sensitising broader community about the early warning signs of childhood cancer and debunking the stigma related to this health condition. Demonstrating that childhood cancer is curable and the myths can be debunked.
- Training the people on the ground in the primary health care system so they can understand and identify those early warning signs and know what to do in reaction. This is specifically aimed at training primary health care workers, clinics, traditional healers and medical officers.
- Baseline study within the community. This seeks to understand the level of stigma in a particular community to ensure that strategies 1 and 2 are moulded correctly so that they respond better.
- Community outreach programmes. These are health promotion workshops that aim to educate communities about issues of childhood cancer issues.
- Keeping track of diagnosis and patients to monitor their progress and provide feedback to stakeholders.
About Campaigning for Cancer – Campaigning for Cancer’s mission is to be that someone to help you find credible information about your cancer journey, direct you to support services and aid you in ensuring that you are getting the best possible treatment through advocacy services. The right answers are as important as the right treatment and at Campaigning for Cancer we help you get both. For more information please visit @campaign4cancer.
About CHOC-Childhood Cancer Foundation SA is the only organisation in South Africa that provides comprehensive countrywide support for children with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders and their families for more information, please visit www.choc.org.za
For press related enquiries please contact:
Mobile: +27 (0)79 520 2967
Zelda Zukiswa Jacobs
CHOC Communications Manager
Telephone: 086 111 3500
Mobile: +27 76 911 0689