Malawian artists to raise funds for cancer ward at QECH: Cancer Benefit Concert in Lilongwe

Some of the country’s musicians, dancers and poets have joined hands for a good cause as they will perform at a concert whose proceeds will go to people suffering from cancer in the country.

The fundraiser dubbed “Cancer Benefit Concert” is scheduled to take place this Sunday at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe and there will be an array of artists from both the secular and gospel arenas, among them Maskal, Piksy, David Kalilani, Q. Malewezi, KBG and Lawi.

Other performers will be Genisis, E-Wallet Talent Show male finalist Guise Pemba, a new dance crew from the Intensity Dance Company as well as poet Marlen C and many more.

According to Esnatt Gondwe of Be the Cure initiative, the funds to be raised during the concert will go towards the refurbishment of a cancer ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre.

Piksy to perform in aid of cancer patients
Piksy to perform in aid of cancer patients

QECH is currently the main public referral hospital for cancer care in Malawi where services are provided by a clinical Oncologist. Despite handling cancer patients referred from all parts of the country, the cancer unit currently operates in a two-roomed space within another ward.

“The unit is therefore always full with minimal privacy for patients, therefore we want to raise funds to go towards rehabilitation of an existing general ward (4B) into a cancer ward at the hospital,” Gondwe told Nyasa Times.

She further disclosed that apart from the rehabilitation works, the project also aims at printing cancer information, education and communication (IEC) materials for distribution to various places including the rural areas in Malawi.

“People should support this cause because people are dying and there are little measures put in place to stop it. It is not just their [patients’] problem it is ours [too],” she urged the public.

“Everyone should care about the person next to them, and if not for them cancer can get to anyone if they are not aware, so a problem that looks like it’s somebody else’s could be yours, It could be you,” she added while asking “and if it was, wouldn’t you want someone to help fight so that you can have a chance to fight?”

Meanwhile, prior to the concert on Sunday where patrons will be paying K1,000, there will also be a fundraising dinner dance at the same Crossroads Hotel on Saturday evening and tickets, which are available at Papaya Restaurant, are selling at K8,000.

The initiative, founded by Esnatt and Lucky Gondwe, Be the Cure has been endorsed by government through the Ministry of Health and the Cancer Association of Malawi, who incorporated it in their plans for this year’s cancer month after the two young Malawians approached the authorities.

The prompting for this initiative, according to Gondwe, came from the reality that so many people are suffering and dying from cancer but there is little awareness and action towards stopping it.

“We have lost our humanity, in that everyone has been looking on but no one wanted to play an active role in helping. There are commercials, and treatment plans for HIV and malaria, but cancer is left in the cold when it is taking so many lives,” she said.

According to statistics provided by Be the Cure, worldwide, cancer is a leading cause of death accounting for 13 percent of all deaths (7.6 million deaths) in 2008 and about 70 percent of all cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries including Malawi.

About 30 percent of cancer deaths are due to the five leading behavioral and dietary risks that include high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and alcohol use.

In Malawi, it is estimated that 8,151 new cases of cancer are diagnosed per year (according to Msyamboza et al, 2010 research). However, with only 18 percent of cases having a lab verified diagnosis, this is likely to be a gross underestimation of the actual numbers of cancer cases in the Malawian population.

Children suffering from cancer, captured at QECH. Photo courtesy of Be the Cure
Children suffering from cancer, captured at QECH. Photo courtesy of Be the Cure

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