Elorhim who is 1-year and 9months old lives with his parents and siblings in Breman Asikuma, a town in the Central Region of Ghana.
He was diagnosed of cancer of the eye in November 2018. Elorhim, with his mother, sometimes including his sister travel 131km (3 hours) to the Korle-Bu Teaching hospital (KBTH) where they can access treatment for him.
One evening before supper Elorhim’s mother, Efua, noticed a white spot on Elorhims’s left eye, so they reported the following day to a nearby health facility at Breman Asikuma, where they were referred.
“We were referred to the Korle-Bu teaching hospital, but we could not report to the hospital till after 8 months, because of the cost we were most likely to incur for treatment and the distance we had to travel.”, Efua said.
Due to the late presentation to the referral hospital, Elrohims’s right eye may also be affected.
“I wept bitterly and couldn’t even eat when I was told my child is affected with cancer, I was not aware a child could also be affected. But now I have tried to console myself, because since I got to the hospital the doctors and nurses have been doing their best, and there are other children here as well who have same or similar conditions as my son.” Efua said.
“When we were referred to Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, we knew we were going to spend money we don’t have, and that is what delayed our coming. Elorhim’s dad took loans to finance Elorhims’ treatment, and he is paying back with his salary now. So I also have to continue working to support the family, Elorhim has 5 siblings we also have to cater for, plus 3 cousins, who are children of my late brother.”
All children with cancer no matter where they are born deserve access to the best possible treatment and care, but this is not the reality today. In developing countries children are often misdiagnosed or die of curable cancer because of a lack of awareness. Even when a child does receive an accurate diagnosis, for many families access to the treatment they desperately need is out of reach due to the cost of care and enormous distances to hospital. Despite a lack of trained professionals, nurses are often undervalued and their skills wasted therefore preventing children from receiving the best standard of care possible.
The emotional and financial pressures of childhood cancer can be crippling for a family meaning many children are forced to abandon treatment, significantly reducing their chances of survival.
“I hope that more doctors and nurses can be trained so that access to treatment will be easier. We would be relieved if we are supported with the cost of treatment to enable Elorhim not to miss his appointments to the hospital.”