A center of excellence

We spoke with nurse Lorna Renner – she dedicates her life to the diagnosis, treatment and care of children with cancer in Ghana.

by Marissa Leffler, Program Director for child health at the UBS Optimus Foundation 18 Jul 2019

We spoke with nurse Lorna Renner – she dedicates her life to the diagnosis, treatment and care of children with cancer in Ghana. She shared with us how this three-year initiative will help build West Africa’s first center of excellence for pediatric oncology in conjunction with a variety of partners. And how that, in turn, will have powerful outcomes in neighboring countries and beyond.

“Support from UBS Optimus Foundation with this three-year project is going to allow our team at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital to take treatment of child cancer in Ghana and the region to the next level.

 We’ve been collaborating with World Child Cancer since 2010. With their support we’ve doubled the number of children with cancer in Ghana receiving treatment each year. But we’re still only treating 25% of what we expect are 1,200 new cases annually of childhood cancer countrywide. With the support of UBS Optimus Foundation through this project, we expect we can double that in three years – to 600.

 Overall, we need to build human capacity. Through this project we aim to increase the number of specialists trained in pediatric oncology in the broader region and increase awareness of childhood cancer symptoms in frontline healthcare workers, so that more children can access treatment. And we’re working toward these goals through a broad range of partnerships.

The Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons is offering a fellowship program in pediatric oncology, so that we can train young doctors from the region. And the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is providing an external facility to train pediatric oncology nurses to help support children in cancer treatment.

With World Child Cancer and the Ghana Health Service we’ve developed training on early warning signs of childhood cancer. Support through this project will allow us to disseminate the training for frontline healthcare workers, so they can refer cases of childhood cancer before it is too advanced. Lifeline for Childhood Cancer Ghana is helping with the costs of treatment so we can reduce treatment abandonment rates. And PERCC (Policy and Economics Research in Childhood Cancer) in Toronto, Canada, will continue to support us with research, including issues of cost-effectiveness.

Our vision is to provide excellent care at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital with outcomes comparable to advanced countries. And become a model for other low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Lorna Renner
Head of the Pediatric Oncology Unit,
Korle Bu Teaching Hospital

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