KARACHI - Childhood leukemia, Acute Lymphoblast Leukemia (ALL) or simply blood cancer in children has emerged as one of the main death causes in our country in the recent years. Though Pakistan is not the only country, which faces the problem alone, even the developed countries are faced with the same problem. The leukemia in children over the decades of research work have close to 50 per cent curable if the treatment starts at the earlier stage and children who suffer from this takes complete treatment. Even though the exact causes of the disease still are not being known. It has been believed that the disease mainly spread through gene or children mainly acquire this through their genetic inheritance from parents. Dr Salman, General Secretary Child Aid Association (CAA), the non-governmental organisation, while talking to The Nation about the blood cancer in children said Acute lymphoblast leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the white blood cells, the cells in the body that normally fight infections. There are two main types of white blood cells-lymphoid cells and myeloid cells. ALL affects lymphoid cells. Leukemia cells are abnormal cells that cannot do what normal blood cells do. The abnormal cells are immature white blood cells that cannot help the body fight infections. For this reason, children with ALL often get infections and have fevers According to Dr Salman, In Pakistan we do not have many leukemia centre or institutes which provides facilities or treatment to small children suffering from blood cancer; though the cancer is not very common among the children but the leukemia seems to be very much common than other lethal diseases of the present time. Generally 85,000 people die of cancer every year in Pakistan and children who are suffering from blood cancer approximately 70 out of 100 of them die every year. There are various reasons, which account to the grave consequences of this lethal disease in which most important is unawareness among the people. Even in our country educated people due to the lack of sufficient information about blood cancer ignore it and ultimately came to know about it at very advance stage. Oncologists believe that more than 50 per cent cases of the blood cancer in children are preventable and these children can lead normal successful life if they are diagnosed at very early stage. Even though in all four provinces of the country there are very few facilities available to provide treatment to children who are suffering from blood cancer. Pakistan Children Aid Association (CAA) was founded in 1979 and started to look after the cases of blood cancer in children after forming a child blood cancer ward at National Institute For Child Health (NICH) in 1990. According to Dr. Salman Burney, when the ward newly formed hardly 20 to 25 child patient of blood cancer used to come for treatment but soon after few years, the numbers multiplied in hundred and now more than 300 to 350 hundred cases have regularly registered in the centre. He said, Mostly people who came for treatment belong to interior Sindh and Balochistan and do not have financial means to bear the cost of this disease. He said low lying and remote areas of the country have majority of the patients because malnourishment and lack of balanced diet, young children become vulnerable to the disease or lost their self-defence mechanism against the disease. He told, The treatment of this disease is very expensive and some of the tests cost Rs 15,00 to 2,000 thousands which our Association provides free. He said that the facilities available at child blood cancer at NICH under the supervision of CAA were same as available any of the best private hospital in the country or around the world. He gave example of two children Mufleha Arif and another girl who were admitted in oncology ward and after treatment living a healthy life. The child oncology unity at NICH has cytogenetics laboratory, oncology laboratory and good numbers of bed to treat emergency cases. This year total numbers of child blood cancer cases registered at child oncology unit are 372 and children who treated at the OPD were more than 1100 hundred Dr. Salman said. Government contribution so far to counter the disease or to provide facility to poor is not much worth mentioning. In a country where maximum population lives hand to mouth and children who suffers from blood cancer majority of them belong to poor then the available facility and government contribution seems totally negligible. Oncology unit at NICH and Other few hospitals in big cities are not sufficient to treat the patient especially when the treatment is so expensive. The government should make it possible for all of its to avail easy access to treatment under affordable cost in this regard it has to establish child oncology unit at all provinces on the pattern of NICH oncology unit and ensure the smooth running of these centres and institutes. He appreciated governments cooperation for helping CAA in the smooth running of the oncology unit at NICH. The families of children demanded of the governments concerned departments to establish more child oncology centres at different places of the country especially at Balochistan and interior Sindh. He said the oncology unit for curing blood cancer in children runs on the donations provided by generous donors from the country and abroad. CAA is thankful to all the donors who sympathetically and generously donate for the treatment of blood cancer patients children. He said, The most important thing we can do is raising awareness in our society that this disease is curable. It is need of the hour is that we increase opportunities and facilities by joining our hands together and persuading government and its concerned institutes to really serve the innocent children who are suffering from this disease