January 30, 2018

Hi everyone! I’m Gemma, I’m a YI Board member and co-chair of the Blog working committee. Today I’m delighted to introduce Dr Huma Faiz Halepota a surgeon from Pakistan and a new YI committee member. Here’s what Huma has to say about the Paediatric Onco-surgical difficulties faced in Pakistan.

SIOP YI Blog 2018_2Hey folks, I am Huma Faiz Halepota, currently working at a teaching hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. I want to pursue a career in pediatric onco-surgery and become a pioneer in this field from my country.

SIOP has provided me the opportunity to learn and share my experience with colleagues across the world.  As a developing nation we face a multitude of problems. There is little awareness about pediatric surgical oncology as a specialty in its own right. Large proportions of children with cancers are managed by adult surgeons, and many are managed by general pediatric surgeons. General pediatric surgeons do not receive any systematic training in onco-surgery during their residency programs, since there are no formally trained specialists in this field in Pakistan.

Surgeons must restrain their urge to resect every single mass that comes their way, without any proper investigations or imaging. This inevitably end up as a disaster, it is not uncommon to see such cases in my country. We must inform our general surgical colleagues to team up with pediatric oncologists at the initial stages of diagnosis and management, so a holistic plan can be charted. This will minimize failed or unnecessary resection. Our role in managing these children should not be limited to just cutting the cancerous lesion but to providing a complete pre and post surgical plan in close collaboration with the oncologist.


I’m proud to work in largest children cancer hospital in my country, where we work with pediatric oncologist round the clock. My hospital is philanthropy supported, providing completely free of cost tertiary care in one the most underprivileged localities of Karachi, a city of over 22 million people. The Hospital caters to an immediate population of over 2.5 million people within a 10-minute bus ride, but also provides care to patients from all over the city and country, as well as neighboring Afghanistan. Many patients referred to us lives in remote places. Others problems faced in this concurrence is non availability of accommodation for those travelling long distances, mostly they live with their relatives or rent out temporary houses until their treatment completes.

Childhood cancers are often curable, but our local population either believes they are always fatal, do not have the funds to access care, or are located in a remote location; as a result many of them seek medical attention in later stages of the illness or are lost to follow up. Education of health personnel at all levels will help in early referral. Regular regional tumor board meetings, workshops, twinning partnerships with developed countries center and development of mobile units in distant places will improve our standard of care and translate in to better outcomes.

Special thanks to my section head of department Dr Lubna Samad and our oncologist Dr Shamvil Ashraf for encouraging me to pursue onco-surgery as a lifelong commitment.

Thank you.

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