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Child Cancer Foundation to be Opened in Tonga

Child Cancer Foundation to be Opened in Tonga

On Friday March 14th the parent support group for families of children with cancer - the Child Cancer Foundation of Tonga will be launched in Nukualofa, Tonga. Tonga will be the first Pacific Island country to have such a support group. The launch will be held at 9:00am at Fund Management House, Tonga.

The New Zealand-based Paediatric Oncology Steering Group (POSG) has been working in partnership with Tonga to find a way to develop services that will assist them in caring for children with cancer. The Child Cancer Foundation of Tonga, like its New Zealand counterpart, will have a partnership between the health professionals and the families. In Tonga, not all children with a cancer present for medical attention and therefore diagnosis and survival rates for child cancer is lower in Tonga than would be expected, given the child population. Treatment in many of the Pacific islands is not available for children with cancer and the limited financial resource does not allow for all children to be sent to New Zealand for treatment.

Jim Barclay, CEO of Child Cancer Foundation, New Zealand says, "we are delighted that an organization, is being set up in Tonga to provide support to children and families affected by childhood cancer. On behalf of the Child Cancer Foundation, we wish them all the best."

The POSG oversees child cancer services in New Zealand where overall survival of paediatric oncology cases treated with contemporary therapy is close to 80%. A Pacific Island Work stream of the POSG, initially funded by NZAID, was created to address issues relating to child cancer cases from the Pacific Islands, including training needs, support for clinicians and treatment options.

The training component aims to bring clinicians and nurses from the respective Pacific islands for further training on the management of children with cancer. Such training will include delivery of anti-cancer therapy, strategies for timely diagnosis and communication and the development of guidelines for triage, treatment and supportive care including palliative care. It is anticipated that reciprocal visits from New Zealand health professionals to the islands will occur.

It is hoped that Samoa and Fiji will follow Tonga's initiative in forming parent support groups to provide support to families similar to that provided by the Child Cancer Foundation in New Zealand. In Fiji, parents of children with cancer do receive some support from the Fiji Cancer Society.

The launch of the Child Cancer Foundation of Tonga will be celebrated by Tongan Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Viliami Tangi and HRH Princess Nanasipau'u Tuku'aho. Representatives from New Zealand will also attend, including Dr Scott Macfarlane, Paediatric Oncologist and Chair of POSG and Continental President of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) Oceania Dr Jane Skeen, Paediatric Oncologist and Board member- Health Professional Adviser to the Child Cancer Foundation, New Zealand, Gilli Sinclair, Executive Officer, POSG and Simon Lala, immediate Past Chairman of International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organisations (ICCCPO), Treasurer World Child Cancer Foundation and Board Member and former Chairman of Child Cancer Foundation, New Zealand.


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