Help Cure Children with Cancer in Tanzania

by IMA World Health
Thank you!
Thank you!

Thank you so much for all your past support. This will be the final report for IMA World Health’s Help Cure Children with Cancer in Tanzania project on Global Giving. IMA will continue this program and continue to raise funds for our cervical cancer prevention and treatment program through our website.
Burkitt’s Lymphoma (BL) is a common childhood cancer most often affecting those living in high malaria prevalent areas. BL is a fast growing fatal tumor unless diagnosed and treated appropriately. Currently, IMA works with nearly 20 faith-based and public sector health care facilities to provide proper BL diagnosis and treatment. IMA has a longstanding partnership with Ocean Road Cancer Institute to build capacity of health care facilities through training of health care providers (clinicians, nurses, laboratory, pharmacy staff, and students) on BL diagnosis and case management. To date, IMA has trained over 2,000 health care providers in BL diagnosis and treatment and treated over 4,500 children in 12 regions. In 2009, IMA also facilitated the development of the Burkitt’s Lymphoma National Treatment Guidelines - the first cancer guidelines to be published in the country.
Thank you for all your past support. We could not provide the services we have provided over the past few years without your support. You have truly made a difference in the lives of children in need of diagnosis and treatment of Burkitt’s Lymphoma (BL).
If you would like to continue to follow or support our work on cervical cancer please visit our website and our Facebook page (links found below).
If you would like to continue to support an IMA World Health project through Global Giving please check out our Safe Motherhood Kit project.
Again, thank you for all your past support!


Veronica with her mother and little sister.
Veronica with her mother and little sister.

Veronica’s face breaks easily into a wide grin. Seated on a bed next to her in the hospital, her mother laughs when she sees it.

If IMA-trained health workers hadn’t known to test for Bukitt’s Lymphoma (BL), that smile might have been a memory. Teeth in Veronica’s lower jaw had begun to loosen. The right side of her face swelled.

In March, Veronica was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma (BL), a highly aggressive childhood cancer that affects hundreds of children in Tanzania each year. It can cause extremely disfiguring swelling of the jaw, eyes, face and abdomen making swallowing and even blinking painful. BL attacks quickly and can be fatal within weeks if not treated promptly and appropriately.

Fortunately for Veronica and hundreds of other children with BL, IMA is providing health workers the training and chemotherapy drugs needed to treat this cancer.

After several treatments, Veronica’s tumor is beginning to shrink and doctors expect her to make a full recovery.

Most people associate cancer with the developed world but, according to the World Health Organization, 70% of people in the world who die of cancer are from low and middle income countries.

Late diagnosis and a limited supply of medicines can be a major factor in higher death rates in the developing world.


Agnes after receiving treatment.
Agnes after receiving treatment.

Agnes was sick for almost a month. Her family sought answers in both traditional and western medicine – to no avail. After two months Agnes was brought to Muhimbili National Hospital – Pediatric Oncology ward, where a biopsy was performed. The biopsy was positive for Burkitt’s Lymphoma (BL). Agnes began treatment and had a very positive response.


 “I was worried, and asking myself; where did this come from? Why my child? I had never seen such a disease in our area. I did everything I could do but my daughter’s condition was deteriorating. My neighbors told me it was witchcraft which I believed. I wasted my time and the little money I had, visiting traditional healers without help. Thanks to the Doctors and nurses at Muhimbili, who have brought my child back to life,” said Agnes’ father.


Agnes’s condition improved within the first week of treatment and the tumor began to diminish.  IMA’s Burkitt’s Lymphoma treatment program consists of six chemotherapy treatment cycles over a period of 12 weeks.  Agnes’s father stayed in the hospital for 3 months enabling his daughter to complete her treatment.  He is now bringing her regularly for the necessary follow-up to closely monitor her remission.


Learn more about this life-saving program and how you can help us save more children like Agnes.  Visit our project page!


Thirteen year-old Amos had been a healthy child but
shortly after his 12th birthday he started to feel sick. He began to
get chronic nosebleeds and eventually he noticed a lump forming on the left
side of his jaw. According to Amos’ Aunt Sara his face had completely changed
within two weeks. The tumor was growing rapidly.

He had to stop going to school because his aunt and teachers
were afraid of further injuries. Amos is an orphan, his mother died of HIV when
he was 9 years old and his father is bed ridden because like Amos’ mom, he too
has HIV. Amos lives with his aunt who is married with three children.

Amos’ aunt lives 100 kilometers from the district
hospital. He had to wait two weeks for his aunt to sell her two chickens for 8,000
Tshs ($5 USD), to get bus fare so they could go to the hospital. Unfortunately,
at the hospital, Amos was mistakenly diagnosed as having a dental abscess and
therefore was given antibiotics for seven days with no improvement, needless to
say the tumor continued to grow. This was a concern to both Amos’ aunt and the
health workers. At that time, Amos was referred to Muhimbili National Hospital so
additional test could be conducted.

At Muhimbili, Amos was examined by several health
workers, Burkitt’s Lymphoma (BL) was diagnosed and treatment started. Amos
experience marked improvements after receiving the first cycle of treatment.
Currently, Amos is receiving treatment to complete the required 6 cycles of
chemotherapy to dissolve the BL tumor and the growth is beginning to shrink. His
prognosis is good. In most cases, BL tumors respond quickly to treatment and
dissolve completely after treatment.

Before Treatment
Before Treatment

Twelve-year-old Joseph lives in Nyampulukano, which is a small town in the Sengerema District of the Mwanza Region in northern Tanzania. In November 2012, he experienced low-grade fevers accompanied by abdominal discomfort. Joseph was taken to the nearby health facility, where he was treated for malaria and worms. Although his fever subsided, there was no relief from his abdomen pain, which became distended.  

Joseph’s parents are a primary school teacher and a businessman, which gave the family some financial freedom. They brought their son to a referral hospital, where he was admitted for about three weeks. He was treated as a heart patient, but his symptoms did not improve. In December 2012, Joseph and his parents made the trip to Muhimbili National Hospital (1,200 km from home) to seek other treatment. After several investigations, the heart problem was ruled out and he was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma. BL is a highly aggressive childhood cancer that can be fatal within weeks if not treated properly. However, the success rates are very high with chemotherapy once the cancer is detected. After just two of the six treatment cycles, there was a marked improvement.

Joseph is in Class 7, which is the equivalent to eighth grade in the United States, and enjoys school. When he couldn’t attend classes, he asked his friends to bring him notes for reading and studying. That hunger for education and his diagnosis inspired him to want to become a doctor.

“Being sick for quite some time, I have experienced what patients are going through, having to travel long distances to hospitals, waiting on long queues for one doctor to attend to you, and the lack of thoughtfulness among some of the health workers,” he said. “I want to reduce these patients’ sufferings.”

His mother, Martha, agrees. She has urged IMA World Health and the Tanzanian Government to train more competent health workers, so that her son’s situation wouldn’t occur again. She hopes that BL will be detected earlier and managed better. Martha also suggested hospitals or health centers providing such services closer to their homes because of the financial constraints of many citizens.

After Treatment
After Treatment

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Organization Information

IMA World Health

Location: New Windsor, MD - USA
Website: http:/​/​
IMA World Health
Project Leader:
Christopher Glass
New Windsor, Maryland United States

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