Comprehensive Family and Psychosocial Support
With Aslan funding and mentorship, Tesfa Addis Parents Childhood Cancer Organization (TAPCCO) was organized in 2013 to change this story by providing supports that target the root causes of treatment abandonment among children in treatment at TASH.
Now a licensed Ethiopian non-profit organization with chapters in Addis Ababa and Jimma, TAPCCO is the leading advocate for childhood cancer awareness and treatment in Ethiopia. True to its mission, TAPCCO and its local partners address the psychosocial, financial, and other needs of children in treatment at TASH and JUMC and their families with resources such as free housing, transportation, counseling, nutrition, medicine support, education, social outings, clothing, and skill building. Staff social workers also follow up remotely to track progress and provide appointment reminders, and operate outreach programs about childhood cancer. In addition, TAPCCO staff members serve as invaluable assets on the pediatric oncology units themselves, securing free treatment for qualifying families, communicating diagnostic and treatment information, collecting and maintaining patient admission, treatment, and outcome data, serving as infection control guards, and overseeing maintenance and other infrastructure issues.
With ongoing funding from Aslan and partners like Childhood Cancer International, the American Childhood Cancer Organization, and CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation, TAPCCO has served an estimated 800 TASH families since early 2015 and its interventions have reduced treatment abandonment rates by an estimated 70%. TAPCCO’s advocacy has also encouraged the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health to prioritize policies promoting childhood cancer treatment and medicine procurement.
Through the demonstrated success of its multi-faceted and holistic interventions, TAPPCO demonstrates that, in low-resource countries like Ethiopia, clinical support alone cannot result in positive outcomes for children with cancer. Rather, survival rates can only improve through a multidisciplinary approach incorporating comprehensive psychosocial, financial, and other supports for the children and families.
Ethiopia is a vast country of 105 million persons, with an estimated 41% under age 15, nearly 80% living in rural areas, and more than 25% subsisting under the international poverty line. As many families bring their children for treatment to the Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital (TASH) and Jimma University Medical Center (JUMC) pediatric oncology units from far distances with few if any resources, without comprehensive financial and psychosocial support, the vast majority would be forced to abandon treatment and return home before their child completes the often-lengthy recommended regimen.