Pediatric Oncology is rapidly developing super speciality in our country. At present its practice is limited to major cancer centres and bigger cities only . Pediatric patients form about 5% of cancer cases seen at any regional cancer centre. Due to recent advances and better understanding of pediatric cancer problems many childhood cancers are considered curable. In the developing countries like India, with limited infrastructural facilities and far from adequate number of pediatric oncologists, it is most important to spread correct information and educate general pediatricians in the field of pediatric oncology. Early referral for prompt diagnosis and for ensuring efficient follow up, the community pediatricians’s role is crucial. With this purpose PHO chapter initiated the development of a training module in Practical Pediatric Oncology in conjunction with the International Society of Pediatric Oncology (SIOP).
We are more than twenty five years deep into this national training project since August’96. The first year was spent in evolving the consensus amongst pediatric oncologists and obtaining endorsement from national societies and the SIOP. In the 2nd year, a Teachers’ conclave was organized, training module was finalized and a reference manual and common set of slides were produced. Nineteen workshops were held between 1998-200 for training pediatricians, pediatric surgeons and postgraduates. There has been an uniformly positive response from the participants at these workshops, the cancer centres where these workshops were held and also from the faculty members involved in this training project.
In February 2002, a second national teacher's review meeting was held in Mumbai where a consensus was reached to modify the training module, revise the reference manual and common set of slides. Mechanisms to evaluate this project was also discussed at this meeting. The major part of the year 2002/2003 was spent in publishing the second edition of the reference manual, new teaching slide sets for the modified training module and creation of a new problem oriented case series.
Workshops were restarted in the new revised format from August 2003. More than 100 workshops have been held so far. Half a day CME module has been piloted on few occasions and has been very popular & well received. Many inquires have come for conduct of the CME programmes. Busy practicing pediatricians are not able to spare full two days from their busy practice. It will be very productive and useful to pursue this module through all branches of Indian Academy Of Pedaitric (IAP) as it does not need intensive infrastructure mandatory for skill stations in two day module.
The success of Indian National Training Project in Practical Paediatric Oncology backed by International Society of Pediatric Oncology (SIOP) generated an enthusiasm & eagerness to expand this project to SAARC member countries, which share the problems of delay in diagnosis, only 15-20% children with cancer having an access to network of pediatric oncologist and treatment dropouts. As a pilot project, the training programme in Practical Pediatric Oncology was conducted at Kanti Children Hospital Kathmandu, Nepal in June, 2004 in collaboration with Nepal Pediatric Society, using human and financial resources of Indian National Training Project. The training programme was well received and appreciated.
The workshop on Childhood Cancer as part of ‘MY CHILD MATTERS’ initiative of UICC was conducted at Dhaka, Bangladesh on 18th-19th February 2007. The objective of the workshop was very similar to Indian National training project- to involve pediatricians from medical colleges across Bangladesh and sensitize them for early diagnosis of paediatric cancers and initiate them to participate meaningfully in optimal care of children with cancer. National coordinator of Indian National training project facilitated the workshop & provided local expertise.
The launch of this national training project apart from achieving its objectives has had a number of spin-off effects. The most relevant of these has been the bringing together of a large number of pediatric cancer specialists situated in various far flung centres of this vast country. It is for the first time that many heads worked together and important ideas emerged to raise the standards of pediatric oncology care offered to cancer afflicted children in India.