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 WORLD ONE KITCHEN is a new program created by Dr. Tanya Trippett, President of the Eugène Gasana Jr. Foundation, and Nic Cortese of US Foods, to address the challenge of malnutrition in children with cancer who are hospitalized in developing nations where there is no organized food program or cafeteria and where parents lack the financial means to provide subsistence and pay for the cost of healthcare.
PROVISION OF FRUIT
In February 2014, the Foundation in collaboration with the Sean Hanna Foundation and a local 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.