- Deputy Minister Fernando Ruíz said that the Ten-Year Plan for Cancer Control, the Care Pathway of children diagnosed with cancer and the consolidation of Units for Comprehensive Care of Childhood Cancer (UACAI) are the major developments over the past two years.
Bogotá, DC, May 6, 2014. Deputy Minister of Public Health and Health Services Delivery, Fernando Ruiz Gómez, outlined the major milestones of care for childhood cancer before an audience of experts from the U.S., Chile and Colombia, noting the progress made by the health authority on the subject.
He indicated that in Latin America, every year more than 29,000 cases of children under 15 are diagnosed with cancer and about 9,000 die. In Colombia 1,300 cases develop and 500 deaths occur. Considering the concern raised by childhood cancer in the country, the Ministry of Health prioritized actions provided in Law 1388 of 2010, the 2012 - 2021 Ten-Year Plan for Cancer Control in Colombia and the 2012 – 2021 Ten-Year Public Health Plan, which are the first milestones to ensure a future for children with cancer in the country.
“Perhaps one of the most important milestones we have implemented is to adopt the care pathway for children which have been presumed or diagnosed with cancer. This pathway was built with the participation of different actors in the System and the strong support of the National Children’s Cancer Advisory Council,” said the Deputy Minister during the international meeting of pediatric cancer summoned by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Ruiz added that cancer care requires a great effort by institutions and families, and service continuity is key for these children to receive adequate treatment. In this regard the care pathway was launched and is a strong example for countries where health service is decentralized, on how to effectively treat this problem.
He reported that mortality in children under 15 by leukemia is related to treatment dropout, which is a critical factor in the prognosis of children with cancer.
“The data we have is that children that do not drop out of treatment have a survival rate of 75%, while those who do not continue the treatment have a survival rate of only 25%. This is coupled with a specific problem of the social determinants because some vulnerable people cannot access services due to, among other reasons, the fact that they live in rural areas,” he said.
He noted that the Ministry has also developed strategies for reorganizing the supply of oncology services through Resolutions 1419 of 2013 and 4504 of 2012, to consolidate the Oncology Services Networks and Units for Comprehensive Care of Childhood Cancer (UACAI) with Service Provider Institutions (IPS), high complexity specialized hospitals seeking to ensure access to diagnosis and treatment with high quality standards.
“We also participated in the pilot for the early diagnosis of cancer in children in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is part of the Children’s Cancer Module of the Strategy of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI). The objective is to improve the survival of children diagnosed with cancer through early detection at the community level and in primary care, so we are working on a model that is the center of the care of children with cancer since we have identified that many of them arrive late for treatment,” he said.
The Deputy Minister emphasized seeking better health outcomes and he referred to another milestone generated by the Comprehensive Care Guidelines for the management of leukemia and lymphoma in children and adolescents. “This was our fifth milestone and where we have the support of Colciencias. At the last meeting of ministries of Health of the Andean area in Ecuador we made the decision to consolidate them at a regional level and thus standardize our developments and technology.”
He said that since 2013 the National Strategy for Monitoring Prioritized Diseases has been developing, which, in its first year of implementation, the Ministry has monitored every case of childhood cancer identified in the National System of Public Health Surveillance (SIVIGILA). This topic provides the name and identification of each child with the child’s monitoring and treatment status.
Ruiz concluded by assuring that the Ministry, in the past two years, has advanced fundamentally to meet the provisions of Law 1388 of 2010 to significantly reduce the death rate from cancer in children and people under 18, through the guarantee, by the actors of the social security in health, of all services required for early detection and comprehensive treatment, implementation of standardized protocols and guidelines of care, and with the infrastructure, equipping, human resources and technology required, in specialized centers qualified for that purpose.
The report was submitted before Gina Watson, Colombia representative of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); Antonio Neri, of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta; Thomas Gross, representative of the Center of Global Health, National Cancer Center and National Institutes of Health (CGH/NCI/NIH) in the United States; and Ana Becker Kossen of the National Child Program of Antineoplastic Drugs (Pinda) in Chile, among others.