If only I had known sooner, I would have taken her to the hospital. We thought she had been cursed.
When a child arrives at the Children’s Cancer Ward in Muhimbili National Hospital, they find urgency, kindness, critical care and a real chance of a cure. What many people do not know is that children’s cancer is curable if treated in time, with the correct medicine and expertise.
‘We are Tumaini La Maisha’ works in partnership with The National Hospital to provide a comprehensive package of care and support to children and their families during diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation – all free of charge. Fundraising to supply the demands of expensive treatment and medical operations is a relentless task but thanks to initiatives like MOVEMBER, access to treatment is not so far away.
In the last decade, more than 4,500 children have been treated at the Children’s Cancer Ward and cure rates increased from 15% to 65%. More than 2,000 health care professionals and students have been trained in cancer diagnosis and case management and last year an outreach program was launched to actively promote treatment in other regions of Tanzania.
During our visit to film a fundraising appeal, we all found it gut wrenching to see children diagnosed too late purely because their families were unaware of the signs and symptoms. AIO wanted to figure out a way of helping the TLM team inform citizens across the country about cancer so that diagnosis was prompt.
It is estimated that 3,500 new cases of cancer exist amongst children in Tanzania every year and yet the hospital is only treating an average of 600. The gap is significant and to close that gap requires two things – awareness at the community level so caregivers are informed and know to take their children for diagnosis and second, build the capacity of children’s cancer services to supply the increased demand for treatment. We are putting ourselves to task with the aim to dispel myths and inform caregivers throughout Tanzania about the signs and symptoms and treatment of children’s cancer.
Visit ‘Movember Tanzania’ and ‘We are TLM’ on Facebook to stay updated and participate in 2017’s ‘MOVEMBER’ to raise money and awareness for children fighting cancer.