In India, there are 40,000–50,000 new cases of cancer annually, that occur in children <15 years of age. About 70% of these cases belong to economically weaker sections of society. A disturbing reality is that only around one in 10 of the childhood cancer cases receives complete therapy. The survival rate of childhood cancers is as low as 30% as compared to 80% in developed countries. Abandonment rate in low-resource settings are a mixture of direct and indirect costs associated with treatment such as the traveling, accommodation, transportation and loss of wages, among others. The result is that many lives are snatched away prematurely. However, a quality support system can reduce the abandonment rate and improve the survival rate. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), this results in over 90% of childhood cancer deaths occurring in low resource settings.
Even as affording effective cancer care remains a major barrier in the country, it subsequently becomes more pronounced in North-East, India as it is underserved especially when it comes to medical facilities. In spite of high prevalence of cancer in the region, most cancer patients travel outside northeast for treatment due to inadequate facilities.
In partnership with St. Jude India ChildCare Centre, Roche Children’s Centre provides holistic support to children suffering from cancer who travel from rural villages and small towns to Mumbai for their. Along with a clean place, families are provided nutritional support, transportation, counselling, educational and recreational activities for the duration of their treatment period. Children of all age groups from toddlers to teenagers are housed at the centre. Most are from low income families and are in dire need of help The kids and their parents are given a unit to stay in and are supported in every step of the treatment journey. They are supported by providing nutrition, hygiene, shelter and education on a sustainable basis. For the children, there are education programmes, art and music therapy to help cope with the disease. Psycho-social support with counselling is provided for parents. Additionally, the parents are also taught new skills that they can use to augment their incomes once they go back home. There are various activities that the parents and children can do together to keep their minds away from cancer. Two such centres have been established in Mumbai and Guwahati.
Journey So Far
- 300 lives cared for till date
- 100% of families have completed the treatment process
- 100% of children have remained infection free