Co-authored By Toun Olateju, MD, MPH and Crystal Cazier Julie* is a 46-year old mother of five, and a cervical cancer survivor. She traveled over 300 miles from her home in Nyalambu village in Iringa Region, to Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) in Dar es Salaam, the only comprehensive cancer treatment center in Tanzania, to receive treatment.
“When I got the diagnosis, I was so worried and confused, I [had] never gone to Dar es Salaam before, I didn’t know how [to] start my journey and I had no money to cover transport and incidental costs.”Like Julie, many of the over 10,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer or breast cancer each year in Tanzania are faced with two major obstacles – how to obtain funds for transportation to Dar es Salaam, and where to live for the duration of treatment. They often have to make a difficult choice between seeking expensive treatment, or staying home and succumbing to the disease. In a country where 69 percent of the population lives in rural areas, often hundreds of miles from ORCI, and with 46.6 percent of the population living on less than $1.90 per day, many women are not as fortunate as Julie. Luckily for Julie, through a grant from Vodacom Foundation and Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon to T-MARC Tanzania, her travel expenses were paid in full (Read more about this project). From June to September, 2015, she underwent treatment. Though she could have been treated on an out-patient basis, she was admitted to the hospital ward for three months due to a lack of accommodation. Now, through a grant from American Cancer Society (ACS), Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon is partnering with several organizations to tackle another common obstacle for Tanzanian female cancer patients – lack of affordable, safe and appropriate lodging for extended stays close to the hospital, while undergoing treatment. To commemorate the 2016 World Health Day, April 7, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, along with ACS, HKS, Inc., Southern Methodist University, and T-MARC Tanzania are launching the Hostels for Hope Design Competition, an international architecture and design competition to explore new ways of constructing “homes-away-from-home” for female Tanzanian cancer patients by using innovative methods, sustainable materials and resourceful ingenuity. Join us in spreading the word about this competition, and encouraging your design-savvy friends to apply! *Name changed to protect privacy of the patient Dr. Olateju is a Country Program Manager for Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon. Crystal Cazier is an Associate at the George W. Bush Institute/Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon.