I am honored to be here today at the lighting ceremony at the Presidential Palace as we celebrate September Month, dedicated to childhood cancer awareness
This cancer is an alarming reality that affects the most unsuspecting members of our society, our children. It is our duty, as a government and as a society, to provide all the support and care that these children and their families need.
Today's event is organized by the Pancyprian Association of Parents and Friends of the Pediatric Oncology Unit as part of the organization of the events for the month of September. The Pancyprian Association of Parents and Friends of the Paediatric Oncology Unit has as its primary goal to support and provide all possible assistance to the children of the Paediatric Oncology Unit of Makarios Hospital and their families. In addition, an important aspect of their work is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of care and the quality of life of both the children who are ill and those who have recovered.
In Cyprus, high quality services are currently offered in accordance with European guidelines. In Makarios Hospital there is a paediatric oncology department with specialised medical and nursing staff, ensuring the medical treatment of children and the support of their families. The premises are designed for children, with play areas and a classroom, while facilities are also provided for parents. We also offer our children the opportunity to find a compatible donor when they need a transplant through the largest per capita Bone Marrow Donor Registry in the world which was created by the Karaiskakio Foundation with the support of the Ministry of Health, giving transplants not only to children from Cyprus, but to children from 34 countries. Through this bridging and contribution we demonstrate that small Cyprus has a scientific and humanitarian stature far greater than its size, while raising our stature as a people. The Karaiskakio Foundation also offers high quality diagnostic services as well as services concerning the whole clinical monitoring of the treatment of children to the doctors of the Pediatric Department.
By investing in state-of-the-art laboratories and in a sound and scalable infrastructure in diagnostic and research science capabilities, the Karaiskakio Foundation opens its wings to embrace children with cancer to support these little fighters of life through the establishment and operation of a Diagnostic and Research Center for childhood cancer, since it remains the leading cause of death in children under 15 years of age.
We all aim to support the clinical application of targeted treatments in order to reduce mortality rates and the side effects of treatment.
At the same time, the Ministry of Health is actively providing immediate and effective solutions to manage the health problems of our little friends. Specifically, through the financial assistance plan, it acts directly for difficult cases of childhood cancer and related diseases to send them to specialized centers abroad for treatments and examinations. For the year 2022-23, 55 cases of children have been sent through the plan. At the same time, however, we are studying the possibility of building a new Pediatric Oncology Center with excellent standards to offer even better services to our young fighters and their families.
Addressing the families whose children are facing cancer, I would like to say the following: I know that no words can replace the anguish and pain you are experiencing, but I want to assure you that the Government is committed to providing the best possible care and support for your children and for you. As parents, you are a source of strength and love, not only for your children, but also for us, and that love is a beacon of guidance. We want you to feel that we are with you on this difficult journey.
The Ministry of Health declares itself a companion on this journey. We therefore follow Kazantzakis' quote, "We make our greatest journey with our soul." A journey with non-negotiable values such as a child's smile. We owe this smile to every child and to you, the parents.
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