Wondu is an inspiring community advocate for people living with cancer in Ethiopia. After losing a young son to acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), Wondu founded the Mathios Wondu Cancer Society in his son’s name. The aim of the organization is to provide care, treatment, and social support to women, children, and other vulnerable patients in Ethiopia to ensure that they have access to equitable care.
What Wondu teaches us
In the United States, nine out of 10 children diagnosed with ALL are successfully treated and cured to live a healthy, productive life. In Ethiopia, where access to early diagnosis and treatment is not readily available, those statistics are reversed – nine out of 10 Ethiopian children diagnosed with ALL generally die. As Wondu eloquently states, there is a moral imperative to address this global inequity in Ethiopia and other low-resource settings, to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable populations are able to access high quality care, treatment, and support.
While the government does try to provide as much cancer care as possible in Addis Ababa, treatment costs can be extremely expensive and families face extensive wait times. Those living in rural communities must find the means to travel hundreds of miles to get a diagnosis, and then must be able to afford to live in the city, far from their family and community, while undergoing treatment that can last for months or years.
The Mathios Wondu Cancer Society works to ensure that cost and geographical challenges do not prevent a person living with cancer from being able to access care. The organization provides financial support, such as transportation, food, housing, and social support and connects patients to nurses, social workers, and patient support groups. Wondu hopes that in time, cancer treatment can be provided to all those in need, so that every person in Ethiopia, regardless of where they live, is able to access high quality treatment, care, and support.