Express News Service
Poonam SINGH (name changed) moved inside and to four hospitals with her son who had lung cancer, for two weeks, before being admitted to BLK Special Special Hospital. The family of eye cancer patient Vikas Yadav visited 22 hospitals before finding help in Cankids. Both families were at the end of their trial trying to figure out what was wrong with their children. Thankfully, they arrived on time and could save the lives of their children. But many do not do it on time.
India sees about 50,000 new cases of childhood cancer each year. Of the 3,00,000 cases reported globally, 76,000 are from India. But treatment equipment is largely limited to Tier 1 cities. Data collected by the Cankids Research Department says there are 250 centers to treat children with cancer, but less than 30 percent take it to a cancer center. Also, the top 10 centers do not see more than 13-15 percent of children. As a result, a large number of children die due to lack of treatment and incorrect diagnosis.
“We only have a number of Pediatric Oncologists in India even though the overall burden is very high. Also the infrastructure is limited, treatment facilities are available only in tertiary centers such as AIIMS, Tata, which are totally missing the cities of Tier II and III, “says Dr. Vivek Verma, Head, Orthopedic Oncology, Max Hospital, Patparganj. “Cancer spreads faster in children than adults, making timely diagnosis the most important component of treatment and cure. And because children are very sensitive to chemotherapy, the treatment process is complex “, says Dr. RC Joshi, Clinical Oncologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Palam Vihar, Gurugram.
“Almost 50 percent of cancer cases go undiagnosed. Even after diagnosis, achieving correct treatment is difficult due to lack of equipment. There is a common delay of 3-4 months. The third obstacle is financial constraint. So many choose not to receive treatment. “Although Ayushman Bharat has helped, much more needs to be done,” said Dr Verma. However, the recovery rate in children is very high, “and almost 90 percent of cancers in children can be cured,” says Dr Joshi, adding, “This is what makes the current mortality rate (50-70 percent) totally unacceptable ”.
In early February, children suffering from cancer and their parents wrote letters to the Prime Minister requesting a National Plan and Policy for Childhood Cancer. KidscanKonnect childhood cancer survivors have collected 300,000 promises – ‘one for every child with cancer anywhere in the world’. These commitments were collected online and through books and mortgage sheets from patient beneficiaries such as parents and survivors, health care professionals as well as members of civil society. They are holding an AIIMS awareness rally at Prime Minister Lok Kalyan Marg’s home, and a street show at India Gate, today.
The need for a national policy
Insufficient attention is paid to awareness, detection, medications, and development of childhood cancer treatment compared to adult cancers. A national policy would set a plan. It meant better facilities, more pediatric oncologists, affordable and quality medicines and a strong support system.
“Cancer in children is very different from cancer in adults and therefore requires a policy-focused approach to quality, affordability and accessibility of treatment.
“Having a national policy will help raise people’s awareness of the signs, set up more hospitals providing the service and decentralize treatment to allow people in rural or remote areas to enter,” says Dr Joshi. would provide early diagnosis through a shared model of care and integrate palliative care into pediatric oncology practice in the form of well-structured and collective studies, ”says Dr Neha Singh, Consultant of Pediatric Hematoncology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram , adding that it should also provide a reduction of geographical gaps in treatment facilities.
“We need support from a comprehensive national agenda that is sponsored and supported by the Government of the country and the State. We owe it to the children of India, “echoes Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Global and a Cankids donor and ambassador.” The WHO Global Childhood Cancer Initiative has set a 60 percent survival target for children with cancer. in a low-income country like ours and reduce suffering for all children with cancer by 2030.
In low- and middle-income countries, only 20 percent of children survive versus 80 percent in high-income countries. “It’s time we have a National Childhood Cancer Plan and Policy to make it a health priority for India,” said Cankids Chairman Poonam Bagai.
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