Child cancer initiatives seeing results in Pacific

A New Zealand paediatrician says improved medical practices and protocols for treating child cancer victims in the Pacific are seeing results.

Jane Skeen says she is passionate about getting better staff training and treatment to children in countries such as Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

Dr Skeen said greater collaboration had seen an improvement in recovery rates, saying that about 50 children are now getting treatment in Fiji every year.

And colleagues at Auckland and Christchurch hospitals are also able to assist some children from the Pacific who travel for chemotherapy.

"People have said it is hard to believe that a country like, say Fiji, where people are holidaying, like New Zealanders are holidaying there, three hours away and children there don't have the same access in many ways to the healthcare we have here in New Zealand. So it is just starting in a little way to get some children getting diagnosed with cancer, having their treatment and we now have quite a handful of children in each country that are off treatment. "

She said other needs included ensuring a laboratory is accessible, an adequate drug supply, and a multi-disciplinary support team for children and their families.