Addressing Pediatric Cancer in Guatemala
By Charles Redding, MedShare CEO & President
The Columbia University Department of Pediatrics published that the incidence of childhood cancer is estimated to be around 10,938 cases per year in Central America. In Guatemala, nearly 900 children between the age of 0-14 years are diagnosed with childhood cancer each year.
Unidad Nacional de Oncología Pediátrica is the only public hospital in Guatemala specializing in treating pediatric cancer, providing complete cancer care to approximately 450 new diagnoses each year. UNOP’s work is supported mostly by the diverse fundraising efforts of Fundación Ayúdame a Vivir (AYUVI), an organization dedicated exclusively to pediatric oncology, and the Ministry of Public health, allowing to provide all resources required to offer a high-quality treatment free of cost to children. Since its founding in 1997, AYUVI has helped increase the survival rate of pediatric cancer patients from 20% to 70%. UNOP currently treats over 500 children each year and has opened a satellite clinic in Quetzaltenango to provide additional services.
Partnership with MedShare
MedShare and AYUVI have a longstanding partnership dating back to 2012, when MedShare sent its first shipment of aid in December of that year, sponsored by the Kimberly-Clark Foundation (KCF). KCF would go on to fund a total of 7 shipments of high-quality medical supplies and equipment valued at over $1.9 million to AYUVI between 2012 – 2017. These shipments were part of MedShare’s first maternal and child health initiative in Central America and ensured that key public hospitals would have the adequate resources to serve their patients year-over-year without spending limited budget resources on critical medical supplies and equipment.
Over the past 10 years MedShare and AYUVI have partnered together to deliver critical medical supplies and equipment to pediatric cancer patients in Guatemala, serving roughly 125,000 patients across the country in the process. Most recently, MedShare provided $250,000 worth of examination gloves to AYUVI in support of COVID mitigation efforts at UNOP and throughout Guatemala’s public health sector. This project was made possible by Kaiser Permanente, which both funded the effort to redistribute PPE abroad and provided over 1 million examination gloves included in this shipment.
“We want to thank you and the entire MedShare team for the wonderful donation you sent us. These pictures show how it has impacted the treatment of children in Guatemala, (as have all) the donations you sent us.” – Sarah Altalef, Directora de Especie y Voluntariado
Medical supply and equipment donations from MedShare help children in Guatemala with cancer, and their families continue to benefit from high-quality services free of charge and provides support for improvements in infrastructure and education needed to improve the quality of life and survival rates of children with pediatric illnesses.