In South Africa, many many more children die of cancer each year than is necessary. In this modern era of high-tech medical treatment some 70% of childhood cancers are completely curable..
if diagnosed in time!
How is it then that in South Africa we only have a 20% survival rate for childhood cancer? How?
My own experience is something to go by when trying to work this one out. I have had times in my life when I had access to a brilliant medical fund that covered absolutely everything. A mere visit to the doctor was nothing, you never even saw an invoice. To me, if you were ill, you just called the doctor. He would examine you, and refer you if necessary. It was a simple process. If you had cancer you could be on medication within a couple of weeks from your first doctor’s visit.
Later on, and unable to pay a doctor COD as demanded, I quickly discovered that ‘white’ people could go to the government clinic too! Here, the process of getting to see a doctor, something which should be a simple matter, can result in months of frustration before anyone listens to you. And usually, that for lack of a fever.
Here’s how the process works, briefly. You go to the local clinic, and first you see a sort of screening person, who checks your details, takes your temperature and passes your file to the next link in the chain. Sometimes, if you don’t have a temperature, this is interpreted as you not being sick, and you are sent home.
You come back again, and this time you are allowed to see the sister herself, who gives you a random broad-spectrum antibiotic and sends you home. This process can go on for quite a while before you eventually get to go to the hospital, where the whole process starts again except there’s a doctor attached to it.
And then on to a new, bigger hospital, many kilometres from your home, to hopefully see a specialist. When you arrive, you are given an appointment and sent home. And so on, it really can take months…
There are too many links in this chain! There are too many places for it to break down, so of course it does. We can’t fix the system itself, but we can help it along by raising awareness. Let people know what childhood cancer is, and hopefully the awareness will filter into our health system. All that’s needed is the same attention that’s paid to Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in our government clinics.
What we’re trying to do, is to make a big enough noise that the people in charge of health care hear us too. Some of the best medical practitioners in oncology and many other specialist fields already practise from government hospitals, so we’re part of the way there. Now to get the children to see those doctors more quickly.
We need you to stand with us and support us in our Sporting 4 Child Cancer project. Around the country, people are getting fit to ride 2600 km with us from the top of South Africa to the bottom, with shows and events all along the way, raising our voices for Childhood Cancer in our country.
Raise your voices with us for the children!
Have a look at www.sporting4childcancer.co.za to see how you can get involved, or SMS LFCANCER to 3222 to donate R10 per week towards supporting needy cancer families
Go To www.littlefighters.org.za to learn more about the Little Fighters Cancer Trust.