Liz Darlison MBE from Mesothelioma UK and University Hospitals of Leicester is accompanying The Glynnis Gale Foundation on a visit to Northern Cape region of South Africa to advise on mesothelioma treatment and care
University Hospitals of Leicester Consultant Nurse and Head of Services at national cancer charity, Mesothelioma UK, Liz Darlison MBE, is to visit South Africa from Saturday 10 August 2019 as part of a week-long fact-finding mission to investigate the impact of mesothelioma in the Northern Cape, Kumuran region of the country.
Mesothelioma is a cancer related to exposure to asbestos and predominantly affects the lining of the lungs. South Africa’s Northern Cape region was home to some of the largest asbestos mines in the world until its use was finally banned in 2008. At its peak in 1977, the asbestos mining industry in Africa employed 20,000 miners.
During the trip Liz will be reunited with Phemelo Magabanyane, a palliative care nurse who has cared for more than 100 mesothelioma and lung cancer sufferers in the greater Kuruman district in the Northern Cape. Liz and Phemelo were introduced several years ago when Phemelo completed an online mesothelioma educational course that Liz developed in collaboration with the Royal Marsden.
They remained in touch, meeting twice before at international conferences. Liz and Phemelo always hoped an opportunity for closer working would arise and are so grateful this has been made possible. The trip has been initiated by Tracey Wood, Director of the Glynnis Gale Foundation, a charity that aims to raise awareness of mesothelioma in South Africa and offer support and advice to patients and families.
During the visit, Liz Darlison will meet with clinicians, patients and stakeholders at hospitals and support groups in the Northern Cape region to learn about what treatment and care is available to patients with the asbestos-related disease. A White Paper will be produced following the visit, detailing best practice options for the treatment and care of mesothelioma patients in South Africa.
The UK has the highest incidence of mesothelioma in the world, with more than 2,700 people diagnosed each year. Data collection on mesothelioma in Africa is more problematic but the Glynnis Gale Foundation reports that 1,120 new cases of mesothelioma were reported in 2017. Auditing the incidence of the disease is important and Mesothelioma UK and the University of Sheffield will analyse 12 years’ worth of data, compiled by Phemelo Magabanyane, as part of this joint initiative.
Later in the year, Phemelo will visit the UK as part of her service development work for mesothelioma, this trip will be funded by the Glynnis Gale Foundation.
Tracey Wood, Director of the Glynnis Gale Foundation said: “Mesothelioma is a disease that has directly affected myself and family by the loss of my mother Glynnis Gale de Klerk in January 2019. Having been diagnosed in March 2018, we knew little of the disease and only through tireless research have we learned the scale and impact on others particularly in Africa. It is totally preventable and by creating the foundation this is a lasting legacy in her name we hope to bring some relief to patients and their families in South Africa.
Head of Services for Mesothelioma UK, Liz Darlison added: “Raising the awareness of mesothelioma in the UK is still a major challenge but the clinical support available is increasing all of the time. The situation in South Africa is vastly different and I hope to use my first-hand expertise to gather information that will inform a strategy to highlight ways in which treatment and care can be improved for patients of this deadly disease. I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity and would like to thank the Glynnis Gale Foundation and the two sponsors for the trip, Irwin Mitchell and Royds Withy King.”