Limerick people are all heart for Chernobyl children

first_imgAdvertisement TAGSAdi RocheAdi Roche’s Chernobyl Children International CharityDr Igor PolivenokEastern UkraineKharkiv Hospitallimerick Linkedin by Alan [email protected] up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up THE generous response by Limerick people to a dramatic Christmas appeal has ensured that a team of heart surgeons can fly to war torn Eastern Ukraine this month to carry out lifesaving operations on 30 critically ill children.The “flying doctors” mission is funded by Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children International Charity, which has been working with the cardiac surgery team at Kharkiv Hospital for the past six years. In that time, Irish people have contributed over €3 million to help children suffering from a genetic condition known as “Chernobyl Heart” who have had successful open heart operations performed by the visiting cardiac surgeons.The continuation of the cardiac missions have been threatened by the growing security crisis in Eastern Ukraine as well as a shortage of funds.But following a dramatic pre-Christmas plea for help from the director of Cardiac Surgery at Kharkiv Hospital, Dr Igor Polivenok, there has been a huge response from across the country to an appeal for funds for the next series of “flying doctor” missions.Adi Roche, voluntary chief executive of Chernobyl Children International, said the response to Dr Igor’s appeal has been “incredibly generous” at a time when many people in counties like Limerick are experiencing very serious financial pressures and have so many demands on whatever spare cash they may have.“We were astonished that all through the Christmas donations came in from Limerick,” said Adi.“Many families in Limerick have been involved in hosting children from the Chernobyl region of Belarus over the years and the response to the latest appeal from neighbouring Ukraine has been fantastic. It means that the missions we felt would have to be cancelled will now go ahead at the end of the month,” she explained.More than 6,000 children are born in Ukraine with genetic heart defects each year; one third of them will die before they reach the age of six unless they receive surgery. The operations carried out by volunteer surgeons from the US, Canada and Nicaragua with support nursing staff from Ireland and many other European countries, cost €1,000 each.For more information or if you would like to make a donation, visit www.chernobyl-international.com or call 021-4558774. Print Facebook WhatsApp Twitter Email Previous articleEmerging theatre projects nestle in HatchLKNext articleMaria predicts better times for Limerick in 2015 Alan Jacqueshttp://www.limerickpost.ie NewsLocal NewsLimerick people are all heart for Chernobyl childrenBy Alan Jacques – January 16, 2015 3163 last_img read more

Fighting a global menace

first_imgIf the focus on cancer sometimes tilts toward its impact in rich, industrialized nations, statistics show that the disease is a scourge all around the world, with 70 percent of cancer deaths occurring in developing countries.Children in poor countries aren’t spared. An estimated 95 percent of cancer deaths among children occur in poor countries.That glaring disparity has mobilized a group of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPS) students. The students, together with the HSPH student government, the student group Students in Latino Public Health, and the Harvard Global Equity Initiative, have put together a half-day event to raise awareness and dispel myths about cancer as a global health issue. The event, scheduled for Friday at the School of Public Health’s Kresge Building, marks World Cancer Day on Monday. As part of their commitment, students are also gathering signatures for the World Cancer Declaration by the Union for International Cancer Control, which contains a list of 11 cancer-related health priorities.“There is a lot of difference between what happens in low-income countries and what happens in high-income countries,” said HSPH student Sebastián Rodríguez Llamazares.Rodriguez said the effort calls attention to the fact that cancer is a serious problem in poor nations and that steps to prevent or treat it — routine in richer countries — should be part of the global health agenda.Associate Professor of Medicine Felicia Knaul, who heads the Harvard Global Equity Initiative, which supports student World Cancer Day efforts, said there are few cancers whose outcomes are similar in both developed and developing countries. Pancreatic cancer is one, because it’s equally deadly everywhere.“For every other cancer that can be treated, the outcomes are very different,” said Knaul, a breast cancer survivor.There are several reasons for the disparity. People in poor countries seldom hear messages about lifestyle changes — don’t smoke, eat a healthy diet, exercise — that have been shown to prevent cancer. Similarly, a vaccine that can prevent one cancer fatal to women, cervical cancer, is not widely distributed. As a result, 90 percent of cervical cancer cases are found in developing countries, Knaul said.“It has very much become a cancer of poor women and a cancer for which poor women die,” she said.Disparities in mortality extend to highly treatable cancers, such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia, fatal to just 10 percent of patients in wealthy countries but deadly 90 percent of the time in poor countries.Knaul said there are several myths about global cancer that need to be exploded, including that there’s nothing that can be done, that tackling the problem would cost too much, and that bigger health issues plague the developing world. All are false, she said, adding that institutions like HSPH are key to gathering affordable, innovative solutions from around the world that can be used toward new strategies to meet the challenge.Students are a big part of the solution, Knaul said, because they’ll be designing the health solutions of tomorrow. In addition to organizing Friday’s event, students who have been touched by cancer planned to participate and share their stories of surviving or supporting a family member’s struggles with the disease.Toni Kuguru, one of the student organizers, became interested in the subject when her husband, David, became ill with multiple myeloma. He was treated in the United States and is currently in remission, but the episode got Toni Kuguru thinking about the health care system in his native Kenya, where the outcome could have been different.Kuguru said she hopes that more students will get involved after hearing about the problem and the personal testimony of those touched by cancer.“What we’re hoping for the student body is that they’ll be inspired. We’re hoping students understand there’s lots of possibilities out there to become involved,” Kuguru said.last_img read more