KIDZCAN Zimbabwe plans to roll out an awareness programme targeting health workers in Bulawayo in a bid to ensure that nurses help in early diagnosis of child cancers that usually present late at health facilities, denting the patients’ chances of survival.
Cancer is curable if detected early.
Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of a National Aids Council workshop in Darwendale in Mashonaland West province this week, executive director of Kidzcan Zimbabwe, Daniel Mckenzie, said they were coming to Bulawayo after having piloted the training programme in Harare and Chitungwiza.
Kidzcan Zimbabwe is a humanitarian child-centred private voluntary organisation dedicated to increasing the survival rate of children suffering from cancer and blood-related disorders in Zimbabwe.
“In this month of November, we are in Bulawayo province and we are engaging City Health through their clinics, to raise awareness but more-so with the health practitioners and we are asking them to partner with us and give us access to their clinics.
“Children with cancer get cancer between zero and six years of age and these children in those age groups present to local clinics. In this case we are asking for all the matrons in Bulawayo, the sister-in-charge from each clinic and two nurses from the same clinic and then four home-based carers, ”said Mckenzie.
He said they expected to train at least 170 health staff from council’s 23 clinics.
He said the reason why they were holding the training was because some of the health staff were not trained on child cancers, or it was not part of their curriculum during training. He said they had noted that delays in detecting cancers in children were partly a result of late referrals by clinics.
The awareness programme would focus primarily on the cancer of the eye and cancer of the kidney, though information on other cancers would also be shared.
“Our main message is that if you suspect, refer that child. Even if we send 90 percent to 99 percent back, but if we find one or two, that’s a 100 percent to someone else’s family,” said Mckenzie noting that his organisation was just facilitating the training that would be done by medical practitioners.
Meanwhile, Kidzcan also has a partnership with private schools through which it raises awareness on child cancers.
“It’s basically about us coming to assembly, speaking to the teachers, headmasters and the pupils and sharing with them the different signs and symptoms of cancer.
“What we are trying to say is that teachers spend more time with the children and the more we can inform and educate the teachers to look out for anything that’s wrong with the children, they can also help to refer those children,” he said.
He said if more people were educated on cancer it would assist with early diagnosis and better treatment outcomes.
The organisation was reaching out to public schools as well with Entumbane and Mzilikazi primary schools having been reached under the awareness programme.