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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

2,000 new cancer cases in Tanzania each year

12th October 2012

In Tanzania, there are approximately 2,000 new cases of cancer each year, reports a posting on the Rotary Dar Marathon site and the current facilities in the country are strained far beyond capacity.

They are nearly 400 plus children that go for treatment each year and the number is growing. It is only too often that one finds 2 or 3 children sharing a bed.

Rotaract is a Rotary-sponsored service club for young men and women ages 18 to 30. I spoke with the country chair person Doris Deonatus about the Rotary Dar Marathon that is held annually to fund community development projects.

“…last year we raised funds to start construction of a children’s cancer ward at the Muhimbili National Hospital…” she explained “… and this year we intend to see to its completion…”

After asserting the club’s will, Deonatus explained that the marathon “…will be held this Sunday, on the 14th of October 2012 and the objective is to raise some 525,000,000 Tsh to complete construction of the Children's Cancer Ward at the Muhimbili Hospital…”

She further explained that the half marathon run some 21.1 kms but there is also a walk that is 9 km along the same route.

As he has every year, the union’s second president Ali Hassan Mwyinyi, who played a key role in the country’s transformation from a single to a multi party system, will be participating in the walk.

His motivation is to uphold the Rotary’s club humanitarian and development initiatives that have seen many a project up and running touching thousands of lives in the country and millions across the globe.

As the Rotaract country chairperson explained, the marathon will commence from the Police mess along Toure drive around and down the Yacht club road on to Chloe road then down Haile Selasie to Ali Hasssan Mwinyi road.

The runners will then go down Ocean road and around the Chimara street junction on to Luthuli then Kivukoni and the route back starts at the Kivukoni road junction and Ohio street along which the runners will stay until returning back to Ali Hassan Mwyinyi’s road then Kenyatta drive up Toure road and on to the finish line back at the Police officers’ mess.

Rotray club Tanzania has posted a link explaining the dire condition of children cancer patients in the country and it states that in 2007, the survival rate of Tanzanian children with cancer was only 12%.

The devastatingly low number gives you the on ground reality when it is compared to a survival rate of 80% in more developed countries. All is not lost, thanks to initiatives by groups like the Rotary club, the figure has this year impressively increased to nearly 50%.

Expounding on the marathon and its significance Deonatus, revealed that, “Our official partner is Bank M who helped us launch the very first Rotary Dar Marathon back in 2009…” and added that “…the marathon does have many sponsors, in fact each participant’s registration pledge goes to the same course, ensuring children suffering from cancer in Tanzania receive proper treatment and care...”

In Tanzania, treatment for children with cancer is the responsibility of the pediatric oncology unit housed within the Children’s Hospital at Muhimbili National Hospital. The ward sees over 300 new cases per year making it one of the world’s busiest children’s cancer wards in Sub Saharan Africa and this figure is increasing annually.

The Pediatric Oncology Team has made some truly remarkable achievements and on top of that list must be the fact that they have seen to it that the one-year disease free survival rate for children with cancer has risen from 12% in 2005 to 60% in 2011.

But with the Paediatric Oncology Clinic’s success came new challenges. The number of children treated annually has tripled since 2005 exponetially burdening the already struggling facilities. It is this grim reality that saw in 2010, the “Charity walk” became “ROTARY DAR MARATHON” that last year saw to the construction of the new cancer ward for children and through this year’s marathon, they intend to complete the project.

Started in Chicago, Illinois, USA, on 23 February 1905 by Paul P. Harris, a young lawyer, Rotary International is made up of over 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries. Its members form a global network of businesses, professionals and community leaders who volunteer their time and talent to serve their communities and the world.

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