Children
 Zimbabwe
Project #10856

Save the lives of children with cancer in Zimbabwe

by Kidzcan Children's Cancer Relief
Vetted
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:

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

With more than 2000 children that have passed through Kidzcan database, more are yet to come because of the Childhood Cancer Awareness Campaigns that Kidzcan holds. The organisation is using every avenue and every platform that it can get hold of, to share the stories and needs of children with cancer in Zimbabwe.

Less than 20% of children registered with Kidzcan come back for services because of many challenges, among them the distance from the One Specialised Hospital and the rest of the country. However, Kidzcan provides transport fares for both the children and their parents/caregivers to ensure access to clinical care and management of children with cancer.

With the stringiest budget and minimal overheads, Kidzcan continues to give to children with cancer the much needed chemotherapy drugs, the supportive drugs, blood and blood supplementing products as well diagnostics. This has been made possible by Kidzcan sponsors and fundraisers, locally and beyond the borders and region.

During the reporting period, Kidzcan took Childhood Cancer Awareness and Advocacy to a higher level in the country. With an opportunity of meeting the Parliamentarians, Kidzcan made a mark by sharing on Childhood Cancer situation in Zimbabwe at a 5 day workshop, which presented the organisation to share evidenced information to part of the policy formers in the country.  

Cumulatively, a total of 150 new patients have been registered since January 2016, and 13 young heroes and heroines lost the fight to cancer during the same period. A total of 414 chemotherapy drugs, 100 blood products, 55 transport fare, 143 diagnostic services were given to children with cancer and 100 Kidzcan has had amazing fundraising raising events during the reporting period raising a total of more than $ 40 000. However, what was more important was that, childhood cancer awareness was raised in the communities that Kidzcan works in and with. As a way of getting feedback from what communities feel about the assistance Kidzcan gives, three stories from a mother, care giver and child were recorded and documented. Two stories are shared as follows:

Story One (Grand Mother)

I am Patrick’s grandmother and we have been here for more than a month. His mother has a 6 months old baby and cannot come here.

We sleep on the benches and I am so afraid of falling because the benches are small and I am a very old woman. Sometimes when the nurses are very busy or far from the ward by midnight, I sleep on the floor, but they don’t want us to, because they say the floors have infection. Patrick is very unwell, but he is a strong young man. He jokes about his ballooned stomach and tells people that he is a business man.

Patrick started vomiting and having a running stomach and his mother and I took him to the clinic and the nurses there said they could not see anything. His mother did not have money to go with him to the hospital and he got worse. We then went to traditional healers and they said they couldn’t see anything. His mother took him to various clinics. Later, the church raised funds for the mother to take him to Kwekwe hospital for a scan but when they got there, they were told that the money was not enough. They came back home, and Patrick was quite sick by them. The mother started doing piece jobs, washing people’s clothes and cleaning their houses. I was babysitting the small baby and looking after Patrick whilst she went for her jobs. She would come home in the evening and very tired because sometimes she cleaned more than 3 homes a day. Some would give her $2, some $3. She was trying to raise the money for the scan. She finally managed to raise $ 130 which was enough for a scan. The scan made it possible for the Tumour to be diagnosed. The doctors from Kwekwe hospital immediately referred Patrick here. I suggested that I would rather come with Patrick than let the mother go through the trauma, and I just realised I was right. She was not going to cope her with the baby in this environment.

Kidzcan is doing a lot, they have paid for all the scans and X-rays and have provided us with medication. They bring medication everyday. They work very well and provide medication though most of the drugs are always out of stock. As is, the drugs are out of stock, today and yesterday, that is 3 of his special drugs. Yet today he is supposed to go for an operation at Harare Hospital but they said today and yesterday there are no drugs. They are the ones that pay for medication, so I am not sure why the drugs are not available. This hospital does not give drugs.

We stay in Silobela, so coming here every 2-3 weeks costs a lot of money. I understand Kidzcan also gives money for busfares, but I haven’t asked. Other parents have stayed longer, therefore, I cannot even complain honestly. Patrick is stronger now, and I hope he will go for an operation soon.

Story Two (child with Cancer)

My name is Wayne and I am 3 years old (mother corrects him, and says that he is 5). I cannot remember when I came here, my head is very sore. I was told I have cancer and I don’t know what cancer is.

I came in with my mother and I get injections and many tablets. The injection is very sore and I am in a lot of pain. The tablets make me vomit. I stay in my bed and Kidzcan brings me dolls and other presents.

I want them to give me another doll, because I have a baby sister and she will want my doll and because she is a baby, I am supposed to give her. I want Kidzcan to keep coming back so they give me another doll.

I don’t like the nights because many children with cancer die at night. I don’t want to sleep, in case I sleep and never woke up. I know what dying is, someone stops breathing and their life goes away.

I know a lot of children with cancer who died. Another one died yesterday and I saw the nurse removing her. I did not sleep after that I was tapping myself so that I don’t fall asleep.

I am tired now, and I want to sleep, but I am not sure if people die during the day. Please woke me up when Kidzcan comes, I want to ask for another doll for my baby sister.

Awakhile is very unwell
Awakhile is very unwell

Kidzcan wants to share a preview of 2015, as well as mention the key issues that took place during these past 3 months. The festive season was not the best moment for children with cancer. It was a sad Christmas and Santa walked into a ward full of very sick and sad children. Kidzcan witnessed the highest number of mortality rate in a while. The fact that children come from various parts of the country to access clinical cancer care (which is specialised) and can only be offered in one Central Hospital in the country, means, most of the very sick children have to travel all the way for treatment. Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals is situated in Harare and is a training Institution, which means, most specialists are resident there. This means some patients travel more than 800km, over 2-3 days to access cancer clinical services everytime they need review. Sometimes they arrive late when the cancer is very advanced, and worn them down. During such time, the treatment cannot wear the symptoms down, however, many times it wears their little bodies down.

The distance the families travel has increased the defaulter rate as well as the mortality rate. Kidzcan has worked frantically to ensure that cancer services are accessed by the children who require them. The organisation has been providing transport assistance, in terms of bus fares and phoning patients and their caregivers, to remind them of their review dates as well as check on their wellbeing. For those patients that are closer to Parirenyatwa, Kidzcan does homes visits to ensure patients do not miss their review dates. 

To date, Kidzcan has registered and assisted 1513 patients since 2012 (when Kidzcan database was established). A total of 266 (reported) children have lost the battle to cancer since 2012. Kidzcan has a national coverage, though in the past years, there is significant work that has been done in Harare, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Matabeleland North and Bulawayo Provinces. A total number of 273 children were registered by end of 2015, and 36 children have been registered since January to date. However, a total of 373 are active in Kidzcan database, this is due to the high defaulter rate as well as children with non confirmed cancers being assisted. This is an ethical issue, as cancer can only be confirmed through diagnostic investigations, which are normally paid for by Kidzcan. During the month of December only, 11 children lost the battle to cancer, and today one of Kidzcan's greatest warriors Kuda lost the fight. He was waiting to be flown to South Africa for advanced medicines, and he could not make it. Kuda fought with so much courage and conquered the pain. 

The fact that each child requires various services continuously depending on the protocol/management profile, some children get services daily, weekly or even monthly depending on the type of cancer, condition, stage of cancer, management protocol and severity of the condition therefore, Kidzcan exceeded all planned targets  for the year 2015. The following new targets were reached:

  • Diagnostic Imaging tests-281 services were provided, Laboratory tests - 878, Blood and Blood products - 209 were given to children, and 2672 critically needed oncology drugs were bought for the children with cancer. Some of the drugs were imported from international pharmacies due to chemotherapy drug shortages in the country.
  • A total of 6 visits to South Africa by children with cancer were supported by Kidzcan. Three visits to Johannesburg Baragwanath Hospital and three visits to Red Cross Memorial Hospital, Cape Town for advanced medicines, was paid for by Kidzcan.

Through the assistance from Kidzcan (diagnostics), there is improved accuracy in the management and care of children with cancer because of the ability to detect the presence, location and type of cancers affecting children. The patients with blood related cancers suffer poor prognosis because of continuous loss of blood. Therefore, the provision of services has evidently prolonged life and reduced morbidity and mortality ratio.

The defaulter rate has significantly reduced by 60%, otherwise those patients who would have not come back because of financial problems, distance, social and religious beliefs, are now coming back for reviews, through Kidzcan assistance.

Preview of Kidzcan Services Offered

       Type of Services                                                2015    Cumulatively

  • New Patients Registered                                    273      1513
  • Chemotherapy drugs and other supportive drugs  2559     9938
  • Diagnostic Imaging Services                              250       1214
  • Laboratory Investigations                                   581        2455
  • Blood and Blood products                                  168        1002
  • Supportive Services                                           6           77
  • Transport Services                                             486       1395
  • Nutritional Services                                            177        109
  • Outreach Programmes                                        440        2653
  • Advocacy Activities: Media                                 11          30
  • Advocacy Activities: Communities                       40          109
  • Regional Medical Assistance                               4            4

There are many lessons learnt for Kidzcan as an orgamisation and family. Firstly, Kidzcan has realised that there is intense need for cancer services in the rural and hard to get communities rather than the urban and proximal communities (Harare). The organisation has also realised that, it is very critical to work with the Ministry of Education, considering that the children spend more than 80% of their time at school, hence if trained, the teachers can help in early detection and referral of childhood cancer. It necessary to work and create awareness within other government ministries and stakeholder especially those that handled/produce or work with carcinogenic materials that pre-dispose individuals to cancer. Kidzcan has a very beautiful and new-faced website. All our friends and partners are encouraged to browse so as to understand the great work that we have done, and continue to do, (http://www.kidzcanzimbabwe.org/).

To date, Kidzcan has raised $46 197, with an outstanding balance of $ 33 803 to be raised

Mums are always by the bedside
Mums are always by the bedside
Mud run for Children with cancer
Mud run for Children with cancer
Running in the Mud for raising funds
Running in the Mud for raising funds
Kidzcan Fundraising
Kidzcan Fundraising
Zimbabwe is orange today to raise funds 4 Kidzcan
Zimbabwe is orange today to raise funds 4 Kidzcan
What  a lovely Teddy, Tanya will cuddle all night!
What a lovely Teddy, Tanya will cuddle all night!

Dear Friends

We need a Cancer-Free Zimbabwe and it must come now! Kidzcan has worked tremendously to ensure that the voices of the silent are heard. The season was fulfilling for Kidzcan as an organisation as well as the individuals that work in and with Kidzcan. It is delighting to note that Kidzcan, having assisted the youngest cancer patient (who was diagnosed at birth and currently 5 months), stood in solidarity with the rest of the world in carrying the plight of children with cancer forward. Kidzcan represented Zimbabwe and together with Namibia represented Africa during the Childhood Cancer International’s Light up Hope and Light it up Gold Commemoration in September.

With the aim of speaking more and speaking louder, Kidzcan made sure the messages on childhood cancer were broadcasted live in 3 national programmes from 2 radio stations. The month of September marked the beginning of loud voices and currently we have received more inquiries than ever regarding early detection and treatment of childhood cancer.

Currently registered in Kidzcan data base are 1834 children since 2012. Two hundred and sixty nine (269) children fought to the last (though they lost the fight), and 366 are active in our register. With the funding from our sponsors, Kidzcan is able to provide direct clinical and psychosocial care and support to the 366, follow up on those that don’t came back and train the health personnel on various skills that will allow them to make the hospital stay of children with cancer worth the life that they live. 

As we continue narrating the achievements, it is also pleasing to note that, to date Kidzcan (currently the only organisation that provides care and support to children with cancer) has supplied the following services: 9907 Chemotherapy/Supportive Drugs, 1205 Diagnostic Imaging (MRI, CT Scans), 2458 Laboratory Investigations, 980 Blood and Blood Products, 1336 Transport Assistance, 25 Supportive Services and 1023 Nutritional Support.

During the Festive Season, Kidzcan wants to ensure that the children who are confirmed to hospital also share the happiness and the love that they can ever experience. We will be sharing gifts and toys to be children confirmed to hospital. Confinement to hospital causes a lot of deprivation. Sometimes children look through the windows during visiting hour with the hope to see someone they love. Some children hope to see Santa bring them gifts and some want Santa to take them home or to remove the pain.

That dream came true for Tanya, a 7 year old little girl. Tanya who has Xeroderma Pigmentosa has been unwell for sometime and unfortunately her condition cannot be treated in Zimbabwe. Through the assistance by Kidzcan, Tanya travelled with her mother to Cape Town Red Cross War Memorial Hospital for further treatment. She travelled by bus to Johannesburg, however, her condition changed because of the 12 hours in the bus. Kidzcan friends helped buy Tanya and her mother a return flight ticket to Capetown and straight to Zimbabwe. The Executive Director also visited Tanya and mum in Cape Town hospital, and also the friends of Kidzcan brought her gifts and reading books. Tanya got many visitors and when I arrived there, she told me many stories including her experienced flying for the first time. She told me, she felt like a celebrity!

Even as we get closer to Christmas, let us remember those that will spend it under the blankets. We can give our gifts to Santa, he surely will bring them to the hospital and we have seen him doing it for other children. Santa told us he is coming to Zimbabwe Parirenyatwa A4 special ward on the 10th of December!

 

 

 Donations 363

Total Raise $ 42 894

So Long Tanya, See when you come home!
So Long Tanya, See when you come home!
Andrea: Kidzcan Founder/Childhood Cancer Survivor
Andrea: Kidzcan Founder/Childhood Cancer Survivor
Kidzcan Volunteers are Kidzcan Family
Kidzcan Volunteers are Kidzcan Family
The Golden Ribbon, Let the Stars Carry the Message
The Golden Ribbon, Let the Stars Carry the Message
Light up Hope and Light it up Gold!
Light up Hope and Light it up Gold!
In the Deep of the Night, the Light Shines Bright
In the Deep of the Night, the Light Shines Bright
Standing in Solidarity with Children with Cancer!
Standing in Solidarity with Children with Cancer!
Youngest Volunteer Standing against Cancer!
Youngest Volunteer Standing against Cancer!
Tanya and Kuda and the People that Love Them
Tanya and Kuda and the People that Love Them

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Kidzcan Children's Cancer Relief

Location: Harare - Zimbabwe
Website: http:/​/​www.kidzcanzimbabwe.org
Project Leader:
Dr Ntombi Muchuchuti
Executive Director
Harare, Harare Zimbabwe

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