The Pink Golf Challenge, a bi-annual fundraiser organized by the Thato Molamu Foundation, took place on Friday, 30 October this year. This is an initiative by the Thato Molamu Foundation which was publicly launched on the 4th of February 2020 on World Cancer Day at the World of Golf in partnership with Doctors that Care to raise funds for screening, testing and cancer education and research for men and women who do not have access to good quality health care. There is overwhelming evidence that shows that cancer patients in South Africa, especially those from under-serviced areas, face unique challenges such as poverty, lack of access to good quality healthcare and under resourced health-care systems. While the quality of life for cancer patients globally has been well researched, the perspectives of cancer patients living in South Africa is relatively unknown. In addition, the current National Cancer Register was last updated in 2014.
The event, held at the Eagle Canyon Golf Course in Roodepoort, seeks to raise funds for the early detection of three of the most common forms of cancer in underserved communities. The theme of the challenge, Screen to Save, emphasizes the importance of regular screening for breast, cervical and prostate cancer because treatment outcomes are much better if these cancers are detected early.
The Pink Golf Challenge is one of the headline events organized by the foundation, which focuses on supporting social initiatives in healthcare, education and the arts and, in particular, on democratizing access to healthcare.
“In the area of healthcare, our specific aim is to screen one million women for breast and cervical cancer and 500 000 men for prostate cancer by 2025,” says Molamu, “and this is where our goals in both healthcare and education come together.
“One of the greatest challenges in cancer care is to educate South Africans – especially those in rural and historically disadvantaged communities – about the symptoms of the different types of cancer. Without this awareness, many seek treatment only when the disease is advanced and symptoms are severe, which compromises their chances of a positive treatment outcome.”
Screen to Save will therefore be an overriding theme for the foundation over the next five years and will run concurrently with the themes of other events and initiatives. The foundation has already developed a range of educational material aimed at addressing the historical legacies that hinder access to adequate cancer care for communities most vulnerable to the disease.
“While cancer affects people across age, race and gender barriers, diagnosis and treatment in South Africa continues to be skewed by socio-economic factors and limited access to quality healthcare,” says Molamu. “Also, few realize that cancer causes more deaths in South Africa than HIV/Aids and TB combined.”
This is down to three factors: a dearth of education about cancer, which leaves many cancers undiagnosed; a long latency period between screening and diagnosis, which means many cancers are left untreated; and an overburdened public healthcare system, which means that many patients are unpolluted or inadequately treated.
“The Pink Golf Challenge focuses on the first two of these three factors,” says Molamu, “so our aim is to educate the public about cancer and to ensure that they have access to thorough screening and prompt diagnosis. We aim to do this partly by developing an independent cloud-based cancer registry, which will make patient information accessible to all healthcare professionals quickly and easily, eliminating crucial delays. This alone will help to improve treatment outcomes for many thousands of people.”
We have thus partnered in this effort with the taxi industry to inculcate awareness, and encourage voluntary testing, among campaign the taxi drivers who are most vulnerable to the disease as they spend the better part of everyday sitting for hours in the driving seat as they travel from one city to another across the length and breadth of our country.
The Foundation is humbled by the generous endorsement from both the GNTA and SANTACO leadership which is in full support of this initiative. Awareness campaigns will take place during the month of October at three mega rank, in the Johannesburg. These ranks include; Bara Taxi Rank, Bree Taxi Rank and Randburg Taxi Rank.
Sponsors include CTU, CCBSA, the Ubunye Capital Group, Masipula Consulting, SKS, Big O Engineering, The Abundant Media Group,Standard Bank, PP Gems, Hollard Insurance, Eagle Canyon Golf Club, Gateway Media and Medihealth Solutions, and the tournament will adhere to all mandatory Covid-19 regulations. Corporates, private businesses and medical practices interested in partnering with Thato Molamu Foundation. The Foundation has chosen Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital as one of the primary beneficiaries to receive funds from this initiative.