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Lukashenko visits Center for Pediatric Oncology, Hematology and Immunology

MINSK (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko visited the Belarusian Research Center for Pediatric Oncology, Hematology and Immunology on 31 December, BelTA has learned.

The head of state was updated on the status and prospects of development of the national research center. The president also showed interest in the pediatric disease incidence.

“The average annual childhood cancer growth rate in Belarus is exactly like in European countries - under 1%, or 0.76% to be exact,” said Anzhelika Solntseva, the director of the center. She added that about half of those who are diagnosed with cancer for the first time are children of early age and the first four years of life. “The reason is genetic breakdown. But genetics without the influence of environmental factors may not manifest so early,” the director of the institution said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko was interested in the scientific work of the center. The center boasts significant achievements in this area. “There is a lot to be proud of. We have developed high-tech methods of treatment. For example, a special vaccine to treat patients with some oncological diseases. It works well on those who are resistant to conventional therapy. The progress is very good,” Anzhelika Solntseva said.

The center, however, needs to improve its physical infrastructure and upgrade engineering communications to develop further and achieve more success in treating patients. Aleksandr Lukashenko said that the center needs to determine what should be done.

During the meeting with the president, the center's workers asked him about the possibility of building a new surgical unit. According to the healthcare workers, they can do much more if they have enough capacity. “We will take a very close look at the issue because you are treating children. You are treating the future of our nation. Of course, we need to create good conditions for them. Let us gather everyone who wants to help and think about how to do it at a high level,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed the healthcare minister, the Minsk Oblast governor and other responsible officials not to delay the preparation of the project and to study foreign analogues if necessary. “We even need to prioritize this unit over the infectious diseases or multi-profile hospital that we decided to build in Novinki. Or, if possible, to do it simultaneously. We need a good project to start building this hospital. It should be done immediately,” said the head of state.

He added that “the healthcare system in the country has been revised and upgraded”, and its modernization will be completed within the next five years.

The head of state also got familiar with medical assistance to children with cancer.

The president was shown the laboratory of genetic biotechnologies. The laboratory was set up on the site of an old pool with the help of Belagroprombank. The laboratory was opened in June 2019. The cost of such laboratories with basic equipment is €1 million. The lab also provides CAR-T therapy, a treatment of tumors with the help of own modified cells. The prime cost of such method is $5,000. If Belarusian doctors used foreign reagents and technologies, the price would go up to $200,000.

In the bone marrow transplantation unit Aleksandr Lukashenko talked to young patients who had undergone surgery and chemotherapy. The children received presents from the president. The Belarusian leader also gave New Year's presents to the patients of the oncology unit and wished them a speedy recovery. Some of them are to be discharged today.

The president wished the children to stay positive. He emphasized that good spirits are a key to fast recovery.

One of the patients - fourth grader Mikhail - told the head of state that he is fond of karate and rowing. Aleksandr Lukashenko promised to organize a training session with professional athletes for him right after his recovery.

Children from other countries are also treated in Borovlyany. One of the boys has been coming here with his mother from Azerbaijan for three years already.

The children also prepared hand-made gifts for the head of state.

The center provides specialized medical aid to patients under 18 with oncological diseases, hematological diseases, primary immunodeficiency disorders and to young people under 30 with some malignant tumors from across Belarus.

The center comprises scientific and clinical departments. The scientific department has five laboratories. The clinical department has 198 beds, 180 of which are oncological and 18 are intensive care and also a consulting and polyclinic department. Every year the center provide its services to some 6,000 patients, 6% of whom are foreign nationals. Consultative care is provided to patients from all regions of the country and foreign citizens: there are some 40,000 visits per year.

The center plans to build a new five-story building to house a consultative and polyclinic department with a capacity of 200 visits per day, a day care department with 80 beds, and an educational and methodological sector. Plans are also in place to build and equip a five-story surgical center (a bone marrow transplant unit for 10 beds, a unit of transfusiology and extracorporeal methods of treatment, a surgical block, a laboratory of cell biotechnology and cytotherapy with a cryobank), temporary housing for patients, center staff and students of the educational center. A major overhaul of the clinical and diagnostic laboratory is also in the plans.