Gina Malot

The organisers of the 6th annual Africa Health Exhibition & Congress, the continent’s largest healthcare exhibition and medical conference, have announced that it has partnered with CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa as its official charity for this year’s event, which is set to take place from 8-10 June 2016 at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.

According to Carl Queiros, CEO of CHOC, the partnership with Africa Health and the subsequent income that it will bring in will go a long way in supporting the organisation’s efforts. “We truly believe that this will help us towards reaching our goals of supporting individuals, families and communities in the treatment of children with cancer, as well as to advocate for early diagnosis and access to specialist treatment centres around the South Africa.”

Queiros adds that CHOC relies heavily on the private sector and individuals for funding to continue its work. “We are very grateful to the Africa Health Exhibition & Congress 2016 for this partnership.”

Jamie Hill, Director at Informa Life Sciences Group Africa – organisers of Africa Health, says that all conferences at Africa Health are not-for-profit and delegates are charged a nominal fee per conference of R100 ($10 USD) pre-event and R300 ($30 USD) to register on the day. “All delegate fees that are collected during the event will be handed over to CHOC, the official charity of Africa Health 2016 and an organisation dedicated to supporting parents of children with cancer.”

Globally, childhood cancer is on the rise. New estimates by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) show that the global occurrence of childhood cancer is higher than previously assessed. Worldwide, approximately 215 000 cancers are diagnosed per year in those younger than 15 years and about 85 000 cancers in those aged 15-19 years[1].

Queiros says that, despite being relatively rare, in Western countries childhood cancer is the second most common cause of death in children aged 5 to 14 years, after accidents, while in Africa it does not make it into the top 10 common causes however it is fast becoming a problem.

Cancers in children tend to be different from those found in adults, most often occurring in the developing cells like bone marrow, blood, kidneys and nervous system tissues. Life-threatening blood disorders include aplastic anaemia, thalassaemia and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.

Queiros explains that according to statistics available to them in developed countries childhood cancer has largely become curable, with the overall survival rate reaching between 70% and 80% or higher whilst in South Africa the rate is closer to 50%. “CHOC aims to ensure that more children in South Africa are cured and that the survival rate goes up.”

For close to four decades CHOC’s holistic approach has evolved to ensure children are diagnosed early, access paediatric oncologist care, and are supported throughout the lengthy treatment phase, which can last up to three years. CHOC promotes early warning signs and plays a leading advocacy role, nationally.

Without CHOC, many children – particularly those from low-income households living far from treatment centres – would not adhere to the necessary but arduous treatment path.

More than 7000 regional and international healthcare professionals and medical experts are expected to attend Africa Health this year. All proceeds from the conference registrations will be donated to CHOC on the last day of the exhibition.

Resource Box: To read more about Medical Equipment market in Africa and the Ministry of Health South Africa please follow the links given here.

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