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Children suffering from cancer write letters to PM on World Cancer Day

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Demand national plan and policy for childhood cancer in India

On World Cancer Day, kids suffering from cancer and their parents from across India are writing letters to the PM and urging for a national plan and policy for childhood cancer in India.

As per data collected from Cankids Research Department headed by Dr Ramandeep Arora, Paediatric Oncologist, Max Hospitals & Secretary, India Paediatric Oncology Group (INPOG), India accounts for more than 25 per cent of the world’s childhood cancer, but even with over 250 centres treating kids with cancer, less than 30 per cent of kinds with cancer make it to a cancer centre; the top 10 centres see no more than 13-15 per cent of children and survival rates vary from 10 – 80 per cent across hospitals.

Given these numbers, over the last four years, childhood cancer survivors of KidscanKonnect, the teenage and young adult survivor group of Cankids (The National Society for Change for Childhood Cancer in India, a not-for-profit national society dedicated to change for childhood cancer in India,) have collected 300,000 pledges– ‘one for each child who has childhood cancer somewhere in the world each year’.

According to a release from CanKids Kidscan, pledges have been collected online and through pledge books and pledge sheets from patient beneficiaries – parents and survivors, health care professionals- doctors, nurses, and workers, hospital administrations, government officials, politicians, celebrities, donors, NGOs, schools, colleges, media, and civil society – that’s 300,000 people from all over India and overseas who have signed up and want childhood cancer to be a child and health priority in India.

The young cancer survivor group have been leading “Haqkibaat campaign” and asking their Mann Ki Baat to PM for a National Plan for Childhood cancer. A cancer awareness rally will leave for the PMO on February 15, International Childhood Cancer Day from AIIMS to Lok Kalyan Marg, New delhi, the official residence and principal workplace of the Prime Minister of India.

Two cancer survivors from Uttar Pradesh Sandip Yadav (sarcoma survivor) and Vikas Yadav (eye cancer survivor) made a video of how they won the fight against the deadly disease. “Our families had to uproot themselves and move to Mumbai for treatment. Why should where we are born decide whether we survive or not?”

A blood cancer survivor from Delhi and a campaign Leader, Chandan Kumar said, “If the developed world knows so much about how to cure and care for childhood cancer then why should we be denied because we live in India.”

Poonam Bagai, chairperson, Cankids said, “WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer (GICC) has set a target of 60 per cent of survival for children with cancer in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC) like ours and to reduce the suffering for all children with cancer by 2030. In the high-income countries 80 per cent of children with cancer will survive but in the LMICs, only 20 per cent of children will survive. This data reflects that we are in a serious war in the fight against cancer – childhood cancer is the low-hanging fruit and its high time to have a National Childhood Cancer Plan and Policy to make it a health priority of India.”

The release also lists the reason why India needs a National Childhood Cancer Plan and Policy, as below:

  1. Because India accounts for 26 per cent of the new childhood cancer cases diagnosed worldwide each year. (India 76,000 worldwide 3,00,000 )
  2. Because deaths due to childhood cancer are an increasing proportion of childhood mortality (other than accidental death) even in Low Middle Income Countries (LMICs) like India
  3. Because childhood cancer cure rates are actually 70 to 95 per cent‎. High mortality rates in our country of 50 to 70 per cent are unacceptable
  4. Because not enough attention is given to awareness, detection, drug and treatment development of childhood cancer as compared to adult cancers.
  5. Because children are our future. For every child that dies of cancer the world loses 71 years of life.
  6. Because no family should go bankrupt, lose their assets, become impoverished or go deeper into poverty when a child gets sick with cancer.
  7. Because access to better care, better paediatric cancer centers, pediatric oncologists and affordable good quality medication, healthcare coverage and complete support services can stop the children from dying
  8. Because access to best possible treatment, care and support is their human right – not just a privilege
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