• They raise funds to support children and adolescents from low-income backgrounds who are unable to access quality cancer treatment due to prohibitive costs.
• Chahonyo says they plan to build, own, and operate an accommodation centre that can house 50 kids and their caregivers.
Hope for Cancer Kids supported an average of 180 children monthly in 2022, up from 16 in 2008.
“Our goal is to ensure that every child in Kenya has access to comprehensive cancer treatment. In December 2022 alone, we supported 259 children. Our goal is to support 500 children a month with NHIF and reduce the cancer burden by providing timely, comprehensive cancer treatment,” HCK founder Sydney Chahonyo says.
He says they primarily support children to get access to treatment, but they sometimes raise funds through partners for transport, prosthetics and other needs.
“We are planning on starting support groups for the caregivers. But right now we are focused on the kids treatment and quality of life,” Chahonyo says.
He says they raise funds to support children and adolescents from low-income backgrounds who are unable to access quality cancer treatment due to prohibitive costs.
“HCK pays insurance cover through NHIF. This covers in-patient and out-patient hospital fees in public hospitals for the child and their family. We are also involved in advocacy, psychosocial support and awareness creation,” Chahonyo says.
He says they are, however, faced with a myriad of challenges as they undertake their mandate.
“Families from less privileged backgrounds are often pushed into extreme poverty due to the prohibitive cost of cancer treatment. Typically, patients travel long distances and are forced to stay away from home for long periods of time during treatment cycles. They often do not have support systems in Nairobi and cannot afford to pay for treatment, transport, or accommodation,” Chahonyo says.
The American Cancer Society commissioned a study in 2016 to identify barriers to care for cancer patients at Kenyatta National Hospital.
They learned that lack of accommodation was a key factor in not accessing or continuing treatment.
According to The Lancet Oncology Commission, the treatment abandonment rate in Kenya as at 2022 stands at 54 per cent.
This means that out of the 237 kids HCK supported in November 2022, about 127 will eventually drop treatment, reducing the chance of positive outcomes for their children unless they are able to overcome the financial barriers.
HCK seeks to eliminate this through NHIF.
Chahonyo says they plan to build, own, and operate an accommodation centre that can house 50 kids and their caregivers.
He says the move will help to break the treatment abandonment cycle by eliminating barriers to accessing cancer treatment and reducing the financial and psychological burden on families.
“Families will then be free from the financial and mental strains that accompany cancer treatment and will be able to concentrate on making their children comfortable and catering to their emotional and physical needs as they endure treatment,” he says.
Chahonyo says the centre will be designed in a way that helps give the children a break from the battle.
On partnerships, Chahonyo says 2022 has been a year of growth for his organisation.
“St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital is at the forefront of advancing cancer treatment and moving towards a cure. Hope for Cancer Kids has been working with ALSAC (American, Lebanese, Syrian Associated Charities), St Jude’s fundraising and awareness arm to build our capacity and put in systems and structures that will help us better achieve our goal,” he says.
Chahonyo says they are part of the 2022-23 cohort of the St Jude’s Global Scholars Programme.
This is a 12-month programme that trains participants in the fundamentals of fundraising aimed at equipping participants with the skills and knowledge to raise sustainable revenue for their foundations.
“This will allow HCK to realise its short, medium, and long-term fundraising goals and further develop our programmes and HCK’s capacity to provide quality and comprehensive support to our beneficiaries,” he says.
Hope for Cancer Kids is a charitable organisation registered under the Societies Act of Kenya.