Ethiopia: Founder of Ethiopian Cancer Organization Pushes the Cancer Advocacy Agenda

Wondu Bekele, founder of the Mathiows Wondu-Ye Ethiopia Cancer Society (MWECS).

Wondu Bekele of Ethiopia decided to commit his life to the fight against cancer after losing his 4-year-old son Mathiows to leukemia. A former employee of a primarily government-owned national tobacco enterprise, Bekele resigned to wage what he calls a “war on cancer” in his son’s memory. He said, “[Cancer] killed my beloved son and [is] threatening to kill millions of our people, and I have a role to play to avert this catastrophe.”
Bekele established the Mathiows Wondu-Ye Ethiopia Cancer Society (MWECS) in 2004 to contribute actively to raising cancer awareness, prevention, and control and to provide social, psychological, and economic support for needy cancer patients in their fight for recovery.
A recipient of an American Cancer Society grant through the global Meet the Targets program, MWECS is working to raise public awareness of the United Nations resolution on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases. The program advocates for its full implementation by conducting trainings for different stakeholder groups: parliamentarians, journalists, and health policy professionals.
“Thanks to the all-around support of the American Cancer Society, we are in [a] much stronger position to challenge the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases here in Ethiopia,” said Mr. Bekele.
The Meet the Targets program was created to empower and train advocates and organizations to work on the ground within their countries to promote stronger commitments against cancer and other noncommunicable diseases.