Our Children Our Future
A photo feature by Naymuzzaman Prince
While the portraits here are in themselves extremely moving images, of children stricken with Leukemia -- when we learn that one of these children died just hours after these photographs were taken, they become even more poignant and haunting.
Although statistics are hard to come by, it is estimated by health professionals that 6000 children die of cancer each year, in particular leukemia is the commonest form of childhood cancer. Saddest of all, however, is that leukemia, a type of blood cancer, is highly treatable. Given the proper facilities and timely detection, up to 70 per cent of leukemia cases could be curable.
However, in the whole country there are fewer then 40 hospitals available for treating children with cancer, and all of those are in Dhaka. Moreover along with treatment facilities, specialist doctors or oncologists trained to deal with childhood cancer are rare. Those living outside the capital, especially the poor, rarely have any access to the chemotherapy that could save their children.
All too often, the fatal illness is misdiagnosed or goes untreated as a result of these factors. Only 5 per cent of children with leukemia are treated in Bangladesh. But this treatment is often too little too late, as the poor and uneducated parents cannot afford the cost of bringing their children to Dhaka or else do so only in the terminal stages of the disease.
Of course, in a developing country like Bangladesh, where even primary healthcare is sadly inadequate, cancer treatment may appear to be a lesser priority.
But at a time when "The war against terror" has become a global priority, many people are asking what about the war against poverty and suffering. Such a war must include the fight for all types of health care to be made available -- especially for our children, who are our future.