In South Africa, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer every 72 minutes and a blood stem cell transplant is their best chance for survival. Considering that patients of African descent have a less than 30% chance of finding a blood stem cell match, compared to 79% for White patients, this presents a huge challenge to patients with this life-threatening illness.
DKMS Africa’s head of community engagement and communications, Palesa Mokomele, explains that currently, the global registry consists of 75% Caucasian donors and only 25% of potential donors of African descent. “This disparity places Black, Coloured, Indian, and Asian blood cancer patients at a 19% chance of finding a lifesaving match, and this has to change” she explains.
Crowned Miss South Africa in 2020, Musida has served as an advoctae for mental health throughout her reign, which resulted in her launching her successful online series, Mindful Mondays, which accumulated millions of viewers across the globe.
As a mental health champion, Musida has taken her work across various global initiatives by being of service to Global Citizen and United Nations Women’s Forum, as well as contributing to important causes in the African continent.
To extend the work she does on mental health, Musida was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for the Global Surgery Foundation ensuring that women and children globally are afforded life-saving surgeries. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that blood cancer and equitable access to transplants for Black patients would be a cause close to her heart.
“Diseases such as blood cancer affect not only the patient but the family in its entirety. The financial, mental health, and access to medical care for diagnosed patients is the reason why I partnered with DKMS Africa, to ensure that patients and families receive holistic support in their needs and also to urge South Africans to come forward and donate to save a life,” says Musida.
With the prevalence of blood cancer in the country, Musida recognised the critical importance of the work DKMS Africa does and the ability we have as citizens to give blood cancer patients the second chance they need at a cure. “If there is any opportunity for Black, Coloured, Indian, and Asian patients to receive treatment and reach transplant then we have to act as South Africans,” she says.
“We are excited about this partnership at DKMS Africa because Ms Musida is not just a beauty pageant titleholder. She is committed to social equity and implementing change in the causes she chooses. As a Goodwill Ambassador, a Champion for Southern and Eastern Africa for the UNFPA, author, and all-around vehement advocate for healthcare in the African continent, she is the perfect person to help us reach South Africans in the fight against blood cancer,” says Mokomele.
To register to become blood stem cell donor, simply visit here and follow the steps. Registration is free and only requires a cheek swab.