It's late August and 9-year-old Sada just finished 12 weeks of Burkitt's Lymphoma (BL) treatment at Muhimbili National Hospital. She's eagerly awaiting her return home to the Tabora Region in central Tanzania, about 1,200km from Dar es Salaam.
In March 2012, Sada complained about abdominal fullness and a small swelling on her left cheek. She was given anti-worm medication from the local drug shop. Since the swelling was painless, it was ignored. She lived with her uncle's family as an orphan, and received limited attention to her health condition. Two weeks later, the swelling in her cheek increased to the size of a fist. Sada was taken to the dispensary where the swelling was mistakenly treated as an abscess. Over time, her condition worsened, and she ended up at the Kahama District Hospital. At Kahama, Sada's uncle was told to take her to Muhimbili National Hospital. Travel to Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam posed a real challenge for the family. Aside from the travel costs, no one could accompany the child to the hospital. Sada's only sister, Aisha, was summoned to take her to the hospital.
"I had to wean my baby abruptly, so that I could save the life of my young sister," said Aisha, who was married and nursing her 1-year-old child.
Aisha's husband paid the travel costs, and the baby was left at her uncle's house. Sada, accompanied by her elder sister, was brought to Muhimbili National Hospital with low expectations. In fact, they thought she was going to die in the hospital.
At Muhimbili National Hospital, Sada was re-examinedand was properly diagnosed with BL. Within 48 hours of arrival, treatment was started and the tumor began rapid and remarkable shrinkage. In the fourth week, the swelling disappeared and Sada was able to play with other children.
"I am very grateful to God and to the doctors and nurses here at Muhimbili [National Hospital]. My young sister has completed treatment, her health is restored and we are excitedly waiting for transport support so that we can go back home." Aish said. "It is not easy staying in the hospital for so long especially when you are far from your home. Since we were admitted, nobody came from home to visit us. However, I do not blame them; it is because of the distance and travel cost. If these treatments were offered at the regional or district hospital, at least some could afford coming to visit us and I could have time to be with my baby."
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