Countless lives are lost in Bangladesh to cancer every year.
It is all the more tragic when children are the ones being afflicted.
There are somewhere between 1.3 million and 1.5 million childhood cancer patients in Bangladesh, according to the World Child Cancer Report -- and right now we lack the capacity to take care of most of them.
Our resources to combat cancer remain woefully inadequate -- only five hospitals in Dhaka and five government hospitals in other districts are providing cancer treatment, and there are simply not enough beds.
It is important that we address these shortages -- the lack of infrastructure, inadequate knowledge of skills of doctors on duty, and the scarcity of drugs are causing the untimely deaths of many children.
These deaths are on our conscience.
If diagnosed at the right time, cancer is curable 95% of the time, but we are too often too late.
The unacceptable lack of resources in our health sector, which we are seeing right now, needs to be treated by the government as a matter of utmost priority.
A general lack of awareness about the deadly illness has also persisted in society, and the government has a duty to ensure that those with children suffering from non-communicable diseases such as cancer know where to go for help.
It is about time we fought the bane of childhood cancer head-on, and provided the nation’s children with the treatment they deserve.
Bangladesh should make the right investments in treatment facilities and overall accessibility, so that no more children have to die before it is their time.