The improvement of managing children with cancer in Ghana is at the heart of the team working on the link between Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Ghana and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh. As a result of this link, over 100 participants, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists, from four different regions in Ghana have been trained how to professionally manage childhood cancers, treatment and counselling.

Helping children with cancer in GhanaTraining

Training sessions have focussed on establishing satellite centres in each region so that health officers can give first level treatment to patients before referrals to Korle Bu are made. There is ongoing on-line training for nurses and data management training to improve the records of children with cancer.

Feedback from beneficiaries of the training sessions

An outreach nurse – “there’s been a dramatic increase in my positive attitude about childhood cancers”. Prior to receiving the training, she used to inform parents that there was little hope for their children. But this attitude has changed drastically because, apart from the training, she now has the opportunity to talk to nurses in other parts of the world and share best practises.

Dr Salifu (A Medical Doctor), commented ”I now know how to break bad news, how to pick up warning signs very early, how to make hospital attendance more friendly, calm children before performing a procedure (especially with play therapist session)”. She also added, “the urgency to attend to cancer patients has improved; cancer treatment is not just about drugs but the social aspect needs to be taken into consideration”.

Dr Lorna Renner (Paediatrician) – mentioned that communication between the Doctors in Korle Bu and KATH has improved. They have arranged for an outreach nurse to call parents to remind them to send children for treatment. Dr Renner added “nurses are now more enthused on taking on additional roles of counselling families with children living with cancer”.

Challenges and the future

There is an ongoing discussion with the government to support cancer treatment with drugs and how to sustain the project by providing funding after its 2 year cycle.

IHLFS Team, British Council Ghana