The Eugène Gasana Jr. Foundation implements its aid programs in order to address the human side of
cancer care. It is critical that we restore the spontaneity and dignity of children while treating their
cancer. The empowerment of children through providing tools for education and for play is an example
of one of our programs.

While providing material aid and resources is an important objective, establishing partnerships for
training and empowering local healthcare professionals is an essential part of the Foundation’s
outreach. These partnerships are developed in reciprocity with healthcare workers and patients to
ensure that the programs respect the culture of the people while addressing urgent areas of concern. A
key aspect of these efforts is hands-on work within the local communities, performed in accordance
with the Foundation’s central philosophy of intellectual philanthropy. The ultimate goal is to perpetuate
a high quality and self-sustaining system of cancer care.

The initial efforts of the Eugène Gasana Foundation in Rwanda will center on projects to improve
medical education, provide important healthcare services, and empower cancer patients. By operating
within this framework, the Foundation will improve both the quality of care and the long-term livelihood
of the people. The projects are intended to effectively allocate resources to address multiple facets of
cancer care at the same time, ensuring that the Foundation is able to help as many people as possible.

Education of Healthcare Professionals

A major objective of the Eugène Gasana Jr. Foundation is to educate medical personnel about safe
healthcare practices regarding pediatric cancer care. The Foundation is dedicated to providing
comprehensive education regarding all aspects of cancer care, from diagnosis to treatment.

Our initial efforts were focused on safe delivery of life saving medications and prevention of infection in
children with cancer with the belief that a simple two-step process will help to save lives:

  1. Training healthcare professionals on chemotherapy preparation, handling, administration, and destruction.
     
  2. Education on the use of alcohol-based hand cleansers can be readily provided and is a simple, fast and safe solution to prevent the spread of germs by healthcare workers who have direct contact with patients. Alcohol-based solutions will remove and/or suppress microbial growth.

Health Provider Conference (Nov. 12-16, 2012)

Educational training sessions were conducted with health providers including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists regarding preparation, handling, administration, and destruction of chemotherapeutic agents. Guidance was given regarding procedures to optimize the healthcare practices of the medical staff in Rwandan regional hospitals. Tools were provided to participants in the group that can be provided to new workers, leading to safe practices for years to come. The training sessions were conducted by Dr. Tanya Trippett, Maureen Higgins, RN, and Michael Kellick, PharmD from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.


Members of the Foundation have also laid the groundwork for an initiative in Rwanda promoting the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers to prevent the spread of germs by healthcare workers who have direct contact with patients. To promote infection control, Eeducational sessions were conducted demonstrating the hygienic use of alcohol-based hand rubs using standard guidelines formulated by the World Health Organization. The Foundation also donated a supply of hand cleansers and bandages.Our goal is to partner with hospitals to develop and enhance the implementation of safe medical practices to minimize the transmission of infection by healthcare providers. Infection acquired in the hospital is a leading cause of death in patients treated there. In developing countries, the risk of infection acquired in the hospital is 2-20 times higher than in developed countries. Children undergoing treatment for cancer are especially vulnerable to the spread of infection because of weakened immune systems caused either by cancer or the medications used to treat it.

Basic & Advanced Cardiac Life Support Training (Nov. 17-20, 2014)

Treatment for cancer can potentially result in life threatening circumstances; thus, it is essential that all healthcare workers receive education about lifesaving techniques. The Foundation conducted a training course at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) in Rwanda regarding basic and advanced cardiac life support for healthcare workers. The course was conducted by Dr. Tanya Trippett and Paulette Kelly, PNP (Certified Instructor) from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The Eugène Gasana Jr. Foundation, in collaboration with the Sean Hanna Foundation, donated 4 infant and 4 child resuscitation mannequins, 16 provider manuals, educational CDs on pediatric resuscitation, resuscitation bags, knitted caps, and other medical supplies to the Pediatric Department at the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) for these efforts. The mannequins were donated in order to allow ongoing training in both basic and advanced cardiac life support.

Young cancer patients in developing countries often do not receive resources to meet their emotional needs while adapting to the hospital environment. While awaiting treatment that can last for weeks or even months, there are limited resources for play and education to help divert their focus from their illness and the suffering it may cause. Some may even question whether their lives are worthwhile.

By empowering patients undergoing care, the Foundation hopes to improve their lives both within the hospital and during the recovery process from their illness. The Foundation believes that the latter two objectives can be addressed together to some degree: patients in the hospital for extended periods have plenty of time to acquire new knowledge that can be used to better their own lives and those of the Rwandan people as a whole.

Young cancer patients in developing countries often do not receive resources to meet their emotional needs while adapting to the
hospital environment. While awaiting treatment that can last for weeks or even months, there are limited resources for play and education to help divert their focus from their illness and the suffering it may cause. Some may even question whether their lives are worthwhile.

By empowering patients undergoing care, the Foundation hopes to improve their lives both within the hospital and during the recovery process from their illness. The Foundation believes that the latter two objectives can be addressed together to some degree: patients in the hospital for extended periods have plenty of time to acquire new knowledge that can be used to better their own lives and those of the Rwandan people as a whole.

ELECTRONIC TABLETS FOR CHILDREN

As part of our efforts in Rwanda, the Foundation has begun an initiative that has supplied 58 tablets to cancer patients at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) as a pilot program in March 2014. These tablets allow young cancer patients to take their minds off of their treatment and replace these concerns with the opportunities to play and learn while in the hospital. It is the Foundation’s hope that this educational opportunity will serve to empower the lives of the children through knowledge. A second donation of tablets is being planned.

PEDIATRIC HAT PROGRAM

As a result of cancer treatment, cancer patients often lose their hair making it difficult to control their body temperature. In November 2014, the Eugène Gasana Jr. Foundation in collaboration with the Sean Hanna Foundation donated 150 hand knitted caps to keep children warm and comfortable during their hospital stay.

 

Family Programs

Campaign in Support of Mothers

The Eugène Gasana Jr. Foundation is currently undertaking a fundraising campaign. Our goal is to provide deserving Mothers of pediatric cancer patients with traditional Rwandan dresses. Pediatric cancer patients often have lengthy hospital stays as a result of their illness. The majority of times, they are accompanied by their Mothers. Due to situations that are out of their control, the Mothers do not have additional clothing during the stay. All proceeds collected will provide the Mothers with the additional dresses that they will need during their stay.

While medical education is key to improving the skills of healthcare professionals in developing countries and medical care as a whole in the long run, providing safer equipment and medical supplies is best for improving hospitals in the short term. These resources can be used by healthcare professionals without our presence, and they can in turn teach new workers how to use these items to ensure a safer environment for patients and employees alike.

HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT PROGRAM

Infection can be spread through contact with any material that comes into contact with the patient’s body. This applies especially to the patients’ beds and clothing, which can become breeding grounds for infectious microbes.

Provision of Bed Linens

Contact with unsanitary bed linens can be dangerous for children undergoing treatment for cancer. The Eugène Gasana Jr. Foundation, in collaboration with the Sean Hanna Foundation, is addressing this problem by providing new bed linens for hospitals. In September 2013, bed linens, mattress covers, and pillows were provided for the Pediatric Ward at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK).

Hospital Gowns for Children

Children and their families experience a tremendous amount of stress when undergoing treatment for cancer because of the urgent need to care for an unexpected illness. Oftentimes, parents are unable to provide an adequate change of clothing because they have to travel long distances from home to reach a hospital. In many countries, the hospitals do not have the resources to provide hospital gowns for the patients to wear.

Through a new initiative in collaboration with the children’s fashion designer, Devika Narendran, CEO of Girl and Company, the Eugène Gasana Jr. Foundation will be providing hospital gowns for children with cancer. Devika is sharing her talent and expertise in fashion design by creating custom designed hospital gowns for children. We hope the use of bright and luminescent prints will convey a sense of hope and dignity to the child and their parents while undergoing care in the hospital. At the same time, we will reduce the risk of infection by providing a clean change of clothing.

PROVISION OF HAND SANITIZERS

In September 2013, the Foundation, in collaboration with the Sean Hanna Foundation, donated a one-year supply of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel for use by healthcare professionals at the University of Kigali Teaching Hospital (CHUK) in Kigali, Rwanda. It is hoped that this initiative will help reduce the spread of hand borne germs that could potentially be transmitted from patient to patient by health care workers. A second donation of hand sanitizers is being planned.

NOURISH TO CURE

Many hospitals in developing countries lack certain benefits that are common in developed countries such as clean water and healthy food. This is especially important in the treatment of youths with cancer, as patients undergoing chemotherapy have limited diets. Dirty water can serve as a vector for infection. Food is often insufficiently nutritious; in some cases, the hospital may not have sufficient food for the patients, leaving them dependent on charitable contributions that still fail to cover their dietary needs. The patients’ families also have few food options: the only places to purchase food are the hospital canteen, nearby vendors, and restaurants. Unfortunately, the prices are too high for poorer families. The scarcity of food at the hospitals often compounds preexisting malnutrition and can prove detrimental to cancer treatment.

In a survey of 25 randomly selected caregivers, some significant concerns identified were:

  • 69% of the children being treated for cancer received one meal or less per day while staying at University of Kigali Teaching Hospital (CHUK), while 65% of the caregivers only ate one meal or less a day.
  • 68% of the caregivers felt their children already had an underlying malnutrition problem, while 67% of the caregivers felt that they themselves had an underlying malnutrition problem.
  • 84% of the children received meat less than once a week; moreover, the meals were unbalanced and inadequate in meeting the nutritional needs of children.
  • One of the Foundation’s objectives is to improve the availability of food for cancer patients so that they can receive the nutrition they need while undergoing treatment.

One of the Foundation’s objectives is to improve the availability of food for cancer patients so that they can receive the nutrition they need while undergoing treatment.

Provision of FruiT

In February 2014, the Foundation in collaboration with the Sean Hanna Foundation and a local Rwandan NGO, Solid Africa’, provided a grant to donate a year’s supply of fruit to the pediatric ward at University of Kigali Teaching Hospital (CHUK). Fruits such as apples and oranges are some of the only foods that children undergoing chemotherapy can eat. Moreover, these fruits provide vital nutrients. This grant has been maintained as a renewable grant on an annual basis to ensure that patients receive vital nutritional support. The program will be augmented to include bottled water, milk, sorghum, eggs, and chicken.