KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that there was a lack of infrastructure for the ailing children of the country. He added that the percentage of children whose cancer gets cured was a dismal 25% to 30% in Pakistan, compared to 80% to 85% in most of the developed world.
He expressed these views while speaking at the 4th Pakistan Society of Paediatric Oncology (PSPO) conference at a local hotel.
The CM said that in Pakistan, around 8,000 to 10,000 cases of childhood cancer are reported annually and for treatment there are only 13 centres in the country with a limited number of trained doctors and nursing staff.
Shah said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has taken notice of the alarming issue. "They have started the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer, with the aim of reaching at least 60% worldwide survival rate for children with cancer by 2030," he said.
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The CM said, "We at the national level want to affirm our support in endeavours for curing childhood cancers". He added, "We fully support the Pakistan Society of Paediatric Oncology's partnership with WHO in improving the survival rate and saving lives of children with cancers".
Shah said that he wanted to encourage public-private partnership in the health sector and make government support available to the organisations dedicated towards the cause. "This government has always been invested in creating bridges and liaisons with institutions and organisations committed in developing healthcare infrastructure".
He said that he would be happy to start this public-private relationship and see it grow and develop.
Shah said that he had already decided to establish Child Cancer Cure centres in Sukkur and Hyderabad. "We are consulting experts as to where these centres should be established and in the next budget, plans for the centres will be announced," he said.
The CM said that he wants Pakistan to be identified as a nation of resilience and strength. "Despite being a developing nation, we will overcome the obstacles by improving the health of not only children with cancers but all Pakistani children," he concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2019.