The CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation was established in 1979 by parents of children with cancer in South Africa. Childhood cancer is a life-changing, traumatic experience, and they aimed to ease the burden on parents and families facing the same journey by providing access to relevant, accurate information, as well as emotional and practical support.
Globally, childhood cancer is on the rise. New estimates by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) show that the global occurrence of childhood cancer is higher than previously assessed. Worldwide, approximately 215 000 cancer cases are diagnosed per year in those younger than 15 years and about 85 000 in those aged 15-19 years. Unlike many developing countries, South Africa’s hospitals have paediatric oncology units that provide specialised treatment. Unfortunately, less than half of expected cases are being diagnosed and of those diagnosed, most are in advanced stages of the disease. Furthermore, in developed countries childhood cancer has largely become curable, with the overall survival rate reaching between 70% and 80% or higher, whilst in South Africa, the rate is closer to 50%.
CHOC aims to ensure that more children in South Africa are cured and that the survival rate goes up. It is the only organisation in South Africa that provides comprehensive support throughout the country for children with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders, and their families. This includes counselling, emotional support, accommodation close to treatment centres, transport to and from treatment centres, support groups (including parent support), interactive ward activities and other activities run by volunteers, transport grants to ensure every child and caregiver can return for treatment and food support.
CHOC trains and educates healthcare professionals, healthcare workers and traditional practitioners on the early warning signs of childhood cancer, the referral process and other essential childhood cancer information, to promote early detection. It also offers a range of other support services, including recreational activities, support of medical staff, funding the South Africa Children’s Tumour Registry, and ward comforts.
All CHOC’s services are offered free of charge.
As the leading childhood cancer organisation in South Africa, CHOC also plays an important advocacy role through campaigns, alliances, government task teams and lobbying. It works closely with the South African Children’s Cancer Study Group (SACCSG), and in support of Section 27 which advocates fixing the Patent Laws so that essential medicines are more accessible for childhood cancer patients.
In 2014, CHOC was voted as the top charity of choice in the My School programme, and second place in 2015. In 2010, CHOC was voted the seventh most trusted and admired NGO in the Ask Afrika Trust Barometer awards.
CHOC is a member of Childhood Cancer International, International Society of Paediatric Oncology, South African Children’s Cancer Study Group, Childhood Cancer Network SA, Cancer Alliance, and the South African Non-Communicable Disease Alliance. It also partners with like-minded organisations such as CANSA, Campaigning for Cancer, SA Home Care, Netcells, Reach for a Dream Foundation, Just Footprints Foundation, Camp Quality, and Flying for Life.
The Cows are a “FUNdraising” arm of CHOC that started in 2008, and by the end of 2015, already raised close to R24 million.
Click here to make a donation to CHOC.
This is the forty-fifth NGO profile of my 2018 #NGOs4Africa Campaign.