By: Farrah Abdelazim
Political Science freshman Nesma Mohamed’s brother died of cancer six years ago. This is the fate of the majority of Egyptian children diagnosed with cancer.
According to a 2013 Swedish study by the University of Gothenburg, 70 percent of children diagnosed with cancer die in Egypt every year.
“Maybe if he was sick at the current state of medical technology, he would have been alive,” said Nesma Mohamed a political science freshman student.
Her brother’s immune system was not stable and was further weakened by chemotherapy. He passed away because back then medicine was not highly developed.
One institution dedicated to decreasing the cancer-related deaths is the 57357 Hospital, one of the largest hospitals specialized in children’s cancer treatment in the world.
Dr. Sherif Abou el Naga had a dream to cure Egypt’s children of cancer, especially those who could not afford the expenses of such treatment.
60 percent of Egyptian children diagnosed with cancer are currently receiving treatment in 57357.
But, nothing could happen without proper planning, he told students during his recent lecture at Malak Gabr Hall at the New Cairo campus.
And turning his dream into reality would have never happened had it not been for the help and generous donations of thousands of people in Egypt and around the world.
El Naga established the 57357 Children’s Hospital in 1998, but it wasn’t until 2007, with the help of seven philanthropic businessmen, that the facility was opened to the public.
“The Hospital is not owned by anyone; it’s only for saving the lives of children,” he said.
Among the donors was Hassan Shehata, the former Egyptian football team coach, who helped fund the hospital back in 2008.
Located in the El Sayeda Zeinab district of old Cairo, the cancer hospital is a non-profit organization which caters to children – for free.
Tarek Nour, an advertising pioneer, helped Abo el Naga with advertising the hospital and charity. He spent seven million EGP in building the hospital.
Abou el Naga then had to think of a creative idea to get money in order to create a better hospital.
He spoke to a number of journalists and they helped him with an advertising campaign to collect one pound from every school student.
“If anyone wants to fund the hospital, there are a million ways they could, either by buying a bed for the hospital or by adding money to the hospital account, the fund or a visit to the patients to draw a smile from their faces”, Abou El Naga said.
Abou El Naga is currently working to expand the hospital’s facilities.
Doctors are conducting research and exchanging information with other professionals abroad.
He added that they are working on a new cancer treatment to guarantee that the immune system of the patient is stable during their medication.
This new treatment was discussed in the hospital in a lecture held on November 9.
“There is no preference between one or another patient in terms of accepting their treatment, but that it only depends on the availability of places,” he said.