An Escape to the Ordinary

Mongolia completes the children's playground at its National Cancer Center in Ulaanbaatar with assistance from the United Nations Women's Guild in Vienna

11 April 2012

For the majority of children, running and playing is just a normal part of growing up. However, this is not necessarily true for children afflicted by cancer, for whom a day of outdoor recreation is a luxury.

For the more than 100 children treated for cancer at the National Cancer Center (NCC) in Ulaanbaatar, such chances for recreation were simply not possible until last year.

The hardships associated with receiving a cancer diagnosis are already difficult enough, but for young cancer patients such diagnosis presents an even greater challenge. Cancer treatment often entails long-term hospitalization, emotional stress, and separation from family and friends. Having to adjust to life in an unfamiliar hospital environment with no space for recreation and relief from hospitalization adds an extra burden on those children receiving treatment.

To improve the quality of life for paediatric patients and enable them to play outside the hospital setting in the fresh air, the NCC initiated the construction of a playground with funding provided by the United Nations Women's Guild (UNWG) in Vienna (EUR 7 000). Thanks to this generous donation, a previously desolate courtyard was transformed into a playground and recreational area with a swing, toy set, sand pit, and swinging horse, as well as a green area with plants and trees. Adult patients have indirectly benefitted from this new setting as they can enjoy a private space to be with their families and caregivers.

The NCC's drive to provide the best possible environment for its patients, combined with the generosity of the UNWG, is a perfect example of the achievements that international collaborations can generate through innovative programmes and approaches such as IAEA/PACT to improve the lives of cancer patients wherever they may be.