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Dec 6, 2016

Children with cancer not only survive, but conquer

Michelle is a conqueror
Michelle is a conqueror

Children have the right to good quality health care, to clean water, nutritious food, and a clean environment, so that they will stay healthy (Rich countries should help poorer countries achieve this). These rights are listed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Right to Health is enshrined in the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) (1946).

 However, the rights of some children are compromised because they die at home and in pain, they spend many days/months in hospital and lose on schooling, they do not get medication either because the medication is not available, affordable, accessible, or they die without a proper diagnosis and/or treatment.

 Children with cancer in Zimbabwe have stood in solidarity with each other in order to bring their plight to the attention of the policy makers, development agencies, decision makers and concerned citizens. Kudzi and Michelle were one of the speakers during the Childhood Cancer International commemoration held on the 29th of September 2016. Kudzi who once contemplated suicide was pleased to see the new self after a successful operation. Michelle also refused to be called a cancer survivor and declared that she is a cancer conquered. She also said even though she had one leg amputated, she is not disabled because ability is not measured by the physically completeness of a human beings. Michelle questioned the citizens of Zimbabwe, the donors, sponsors and Development Agencies in Zimbabwe, if they were comfortable with the current scenario whereby, there were many cancer graves, than cancer success stories in the country.

 Therefore, as Kidzcan our desire is to ensure access to affordable cancer management services for Children with cancer reflected in increased allocation of resources towards cancer services provision in the national budget; to see Communities changing in their Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice and Behaviour, and ultimately increased concern regarding cancer as well as cancer causing habits and agents; as well as see Rich Countries and agencies of Rich Countries helping Zimbabwe as a Low Income Country, help children with cancer access treatment and care.

 In view of need for cancer services, Kidzcan registered 77 children in total, 30 patients in September, 25 in October and 22 in November. These comprised of 32 females and 45 males. Segregated by diagnosis, the children with blood disorders constituted significantly to those patients registered in the period under review with 31%, followed by other cancers with 19%, those with unconfirmed diagnosis with 12%, Wilms’s Tumour 9%, Retinoblastoma7%,  Rhabdomyosarcoma 6%, neuroblastoma 5% Brain Tumour and Kaposi Sarcoma at 4%.

 The children came from all over the country to the centralized services in Harare. Segregated by geographic area, Harare province recorded the highest number of patients with a total of 16 patients due to the proximity to the services. This was followed by Bulawayo with 10 (who have to travel 880 kilometers return), Manicaland (almost 600km return), Midlands (400 km radius) and Masvingo (around 800 km away)  at 9, Mashonaland West (around 200kn) and East (200km) at 7, Mashonaland Central 6 whilst Matabeleland South and North contributed the least with 2 each (close 1900 km return for each). During the period under review 12 cadres lost the battle to cancer, 9 patients lost their lives in September and 3 in November.  This number is high and, if detected early, cancer can be treated in children. Hence, teh children's lives can be spared.

Tanya came to stand in solidarity with others
Tanya came to stand in solidarity with others
Little by little, we stand together
Little by little, we stand together
A new me, the mass is gone!
A new me, the mass is gone!
She may not have seen, but she knew!
She may not have seen, but she knew!
Health is a right, and entitlement
Health is a right, and entitlement
Light up Hope for the Children with Cancer
Light up Hope for the Children with Cancer

Links:

Oct 18, 2016

The Distance Between Need and Access Determines Outcome

Kidzcan Officers waiting to collect Nothando
Kidzcan Officers waiting to collect Nothando

The distance between services for children with cancer determines a lot of things, among them, the treatment outcomes. Many children with cancer arrive at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals from all over the country at advanced stages of illnesses, and treatment outcomes are usually poor. Some of the children never make it to services due to the distance and lack of transport fares to access childhood cancer services. Kidzcan has been providing money for bus fares for children with cancer and their parents/caregivers for many years.

However in 2016, especially the past three months, cash availability has been so much of a challenges hence many children missed their reviews and their treatment. During the period under review, Kidzcan provided 73 children with transport fares from all parts of the county to access cancer services which for many reasons, are still centralised. Kidzcan also registered a total of 124 patients; of these 61% were males whilst 39% were females. These patients were registered from all the ten provinces with Harare province having the highest number of new registrations. Harare had a total of 29 patients followed by Mashonaland West with 18; Masvingo 14; Midlands  and Mashonaland Central with 12 each; Mashonaland East 11; Matabeleland South and Manicaland with 8 each; Bulawayo 7 and Matabeleland North recorded a total of 5.  The 23.39% new registrations from Harare province, is owed to the competitive advantage of the proximity to services hence the positive health seeking behaviour.

 When the children arrive in Harare, Kidzcan continues to pay $15 per patient everytime they require specialised services which are being outsourced for various reasons. This is owed to the fact that Kidzcan does not have an ambulance or safe transport to ferry children in between different services provides. The challenges that children face in view of transportation cannot be imagined. An 11th month old little girl was transferred to Harare (from Matabelaland North). She had an advanced cancer (rhabdomyosarcoma). The mother took about 3 days to arrive at Parirenyatwa hospital. Unfortunately the child died after a week of hospitalisation. Due to the level of lack the 23 year old mother opted for a pauper's burial for her little girl. 

 I came from Dandanda (872km from Harare), and I have no relatives here in Harare. We have 2 more children aged 6 and 2 years, and I have no means of transporting the body of my baby home. My husband is 26 years and does not work. We don’t have a cell phone, I cannot even notify them of the outcomes of the disease process. If possible, may I leave the body so that she can be buried by the government. I will tell them (in-laws) of the outcomes when I get home.

Kidzcan offered to carry the body to Dandanda and it took the officers about 15 hours (arriving at 2 am) to get there. The team got lost 3 times and once were rescued by the police that patrolled the road. The mother could not remember the way home, in fact she did not know the way home because she had never seen the way during the day since she was born. The bus that they board leaves the village at 2 am to Bulawayo every morning and arrives back from Bulawayo at 10 pm, hence, travelling at night made it impossible for the young mother to remember or know how the area looked like during the day.

Kidzcan Officers in the Village
Kidzcan Officers in the Village
Sep 7, 2016

Hope Abound

Kudzi Before
Kudzi Before

Kidzcan continues to work diligently to ensure that childhood cancer becomes part of the national health agenda through continued engagement with organisations working with children. The economic situation has remained strained and contentious with the local funding base shrinking as many companies struggle to remain in business. Despite the prevailing socio-economic challenges, Kidzcan remains committed to ensuring that children with cancer receive much need cancer services.

Since our last report in June 2016, Kidzcan registered 61 new patients bringing the total number of children registered in 2016 to 252 and total number of children in the database to 2 155.  There has been a significant increase in the demand for cancer services due to early detection and the awareness campaigns Kidzcan held during 2015. The increase in demand for childhood cancer services has put a major strain on the organisations budget, and your continued giving has and will go a long way to ensuring that children with cancer receive all the cancer treatment services they deserve.

In July 2016, the Kidzcan team embarked on an evaluation exercise to follow up on a group of health professionals (nurses and doctors) that were trained in Childhood Cancers management and Psychosocial Support for children with cancer in December 2015. The purpose of the exercise is aimed at measuring the extent to which knowledge from the training is being used and shared to ensure that children with cancer are receiving adequate management and psychosocial support along the continuum of care.  The team has so far travelled to Manicaland, Mashonaland East, and Mashonaland West Provinces and is expected to visit three more provinces before the end of the year.

In August this year Kidzcan lost one of the littles heroes. The little boy stayed 900km away from Harare, and because of the poverty in their family the mother had opted for a paupers’ burial. Due to the role that Kidzcan had played in his life, the organisation felt it was not appropriate to have a child buried almost a thousand kilometres away. A team of three travelled from 11 am and arrived in the village at 1 am. The remaining 30 km was in the bush and there was no road. The whole village heard about Kidzcan and they came to meet the officers and were very grateful.

In our work we usually come across incredible stories of change that inspire us to keep doing what we are doing. One such story is that of Michael and we hope it will inspire you to continue giving:

Michael’s Story

Michael (not his real name) is an Upper 6 student at Shamva High School. In February 2016, Kidzcan Staff visited Shamva District and spoke about childhood cancer. The crowd was shown a lot of pictures and they were told about the different types of cancers in children.  A member of the community who attended the Awareness Campaign remembered a boy from his village who had something similar (a mass growing on his neck) to what they had been shown during the campaign.  Below is his testimony:

                   “It had been four years since I last saw my face. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror because my face was deformed.  I was having a difficult time at school and felt miserable. Everyone looked at me twice and some who dared would ask me what happened. A few others would whisper to each other as they walked away. My books were my only hope and my best friends. I longed for psychological freedom. Little did I know that Kidzcan will be my true friend.”

In April 2016, Kidzcan arranged for Michael to be assessed at Parirenyatwa Hospital, where he underwent a biopsy to determine whether the mass was cancerous or benign. He also had a CT scan done. The biopsy revealed that the mass was benign and thankfully would not need chemotherapy, the mass however had to be removed. Kidzcan, together with other well-wishers facilitated that he have an operation done to remove the growth in May 2016. His story continues:

              “After the operation, I looked at myself in the mirror and screamed! I saw something had not seen in a long time. I saw me. I got my hope restored. Thank you so much Kidzcan and God Bless you…

I have all the confidence that was stolen. I love the mirror and I love what I see. I cannot wait to get back to school and as the Head Boy, address the students.”              

                                                                            

Kudzi
Kudzi
Kudzi, Mum and Kidzcan Officers
Kudzi, Mum and Kidzcan Officers
 
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