A cancer study found that 58,237 people died of cancer in South Africa in 2015, with 114,091 new cancer cases that year. Not only does the diagnosis come with emotional, physical and psychological consequences, but with financial ones too.
The Independent Clinical Oncology Network estimates that depending on the kind of cancer, treatment can cost anything between R10,000 and R1 million per year. This is especially challenging in a country where an estimated 80% of the population relies on state healthcare institutions, which are fraught with their own problems in treating cancer patients.
People Living with Cancer's Linda Greeff told Health24 that poverty and poor service delivery were some of the biggest challenges facing cancer patients who rely on state institutions for treatment. Poor service delivery includes long waiting lists, broken medical machines and unavailable chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, better healthcare comes at a cost, reserved more for those who can afford medical aid. CANSA's Professor Michael Herbst says: "Cancer treatment funding remains a big challenge, especially for the poor in South Africa."
However, all is not lost. There are local organizations that support cancer patients and families, and while the support may not always be monetary, it can prove invaluable.
Here are three:
- Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA). They have more than 30 care centres located in communities throughout the country, to assist cancer patients and their families, especially those in dire need of support. They provide, amongst other things, accommodation, meals, counselling and transport to and from treatment centres.
- Cancer buddies. The organisation runs a programme where it pairs a newly diagnosed cancer patient with another person who has fought and survived the same type of cancer. This service is also absolutely free.
- People Living with Cancer (PLWC). An umbrella organisation that brings together people and organisations who fight cancer in South Africa. The organisations offer different forms of help ranging from counseling and financial support.