For the first time ever, medical professionals, officials of the Ministry of Health and health experts discussed the needs in the field of paediatric oncology in the Republic of Moldova at a roundtable organised by the Association “Life without Leukaemia”. The event was also attended, online and in person, by representatives of relevant associations from Romania, Ukraine and the USA, as well as the World Health Organization Office in the Republic of Moldova.

The discussions were made possible thanks to the project “Eastern Partnership – COVID-19 Solidarity Programme”, funded by the European Union and implemented by People in Need Moldova. The roundtable is part of the advocacy efforts of the NGO “Life without Leukaemia”, carried out over the summer with the help of a grant obtained under this project, to draw attention to the difficulties faced by all those involved in the care and treatment of children with cancer.

“Our aim was to bring together medical workers, officials, paediatric oncologists and parents caring for children with cancer to see together how we can address the most pressing issues. As from the ministry’s offices things look one way, while the reality in hospitals is different. And it was important to show the doctors that changes are possible and that their role in making them happen is quite big”,

said Natalia Vîlcu-Bajurean, president of the NGO “Life without Leukaemia”.

Attending the event, Health Minister Ala Nemerenco said that the field of paediatric oncology is a very sensitive one and everything possible needs to be done to reduce the pain of the little ones.

“We need to act quickly in this regard, because these patients cannot wait. They need to be diagnosed early and treated properly, benefiting from investigations, quality medicines”,

said Ala Nemerenco.

From the perspective of the Ministry of Health, there are several priorities for the Oncology Institute, namely the training of medical staff in Romania, Germany and Slovakia, as well as the procurement and equipping of the institution with state-of-the-art equipment.

The event provided a platform for healthcare professionals and experts to identify needs in the field of paediatric oncology. The modernisation of this field involves the capital renovation of the paediatric onco-haematology ward at the Institute of Oncology, the provision of comfortable conditions including separate wards, adequate accommodation for parents, and the development of rehabilitation services for child cancer survivors.

In order to achieve the goal of advocacy efforts – to ensure conditions for children with cancer to be treated in our country – it is extremely necessary to develop existing palliative care services for children with cancer, as well as to provide medical care for paediatric cancer patients through multidisciplinary teams (nephrologist, neurologist, cardiologist, pulmonologist, dermatologist, hepatologist, nutritionist).

At the end of the event, Natalia Vîlcu- Bajurean thanked the European Union for its support to the roundtable and other activities aimed at improving the field of paediatric oncology.

“From the European Union and People in Need Moldova we had the greatest support. Being involved in the project, I learned what advocacy means and how to do it, and this event is the result of joint efforts”,

said the president of the NGO “Life without Leukaemia”.

Thanks to the project, last year the association managed to purchase 9 braunostats, 200 sets of anti-COVID-19 protection, 16 laptops for hospitalized children so that they could attend online lessons, headphones and printer for the paediatric ward of the Oncology Institute. At the same time, the team of NGO “Life without Leukaemia” launched a psychological support hotline for parents of children with cancer and prepared information materials for parents who bring their child to the paediatric oncology ward for the first time.