India Needs to Step Up Cancer Care in Children to Achieve WHO´s 60% Survival Target
The national society for childhood cancer, Cankids Kidscan, organized its 9th Access to Care Rally in New Delhi. The day long car rally in New Delhi, of survivors, parents of children with cancer, volunteers, Cankids ambassadors and donor participants, drove to the offices of important stakeholders, like WHO (World Health Organization) South-East Asia, Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital, Niti Aayog Ministry of Health, via India Gate and Connaught Place, and made its way to the Prime Minister’s residence at Lok Kalyan Marg.
Childhood cancer survivors of Kidscan Konnect (the teenage and young adult survivor group of Cankids) have raised 300,000 pledges over the last four years from India and worldwide for childhood cancer to be a child and health priority in India.
Why did I need to go to 22 hospitals before I could get diagnosed and treated?
“We want to present these to Hon’ble PM Modi and to ask for a National Plan for childhood cancer “Mera Haq– IDeserve: Equal Access to holistic care – Anytime Anywhere, ” said survivor leaders, Chandan, Ritu, Sandeep, Sitara, Akriti and Deb.
Childhood Cancer Survivors also performed a thought provoking nukkad natak “Mera Haq” at India Gate, Central Park and at Kalavati Saran Children’s Hospital to express their story of their fight with cancer, the reasons why children in India are dying of cancer, what the families want and what needs to be done.
Why did my family have to be uprooted from Kolkata to Delhi for my treatment?
“Why did I need to go to 22 hospitals before I could get diagnosed and treated?” asked Vikas an eye cancer survivor.
“Why did my family have to be uprooted from Kolkata to Delhi for my treatment?” demands Dev Mukherjee, a blood cancer survivor.
Leading the rally, Sonal Sharma, parent of a childhood cancer survivor and Co-founder of Cankids Kidscan said, “The journey of the 300,000 pledges is a journey across geographies and states, car rallies, light up gold and gold ribbons. A journey to declare gold the colour of childhood cancer in India.”
If we want to reach the 60% survival goal targeted by WHO, we have to improve Access to Care
Poonam Bagai, cancer survivor patient advocate and Founder Chairman of Cankids, said, “It is also a story of stakeholder engagement and advocacy. Today, all the stakeholders are at the childhood cancer table – Indian Academy of Pediatrics – PHO Chapter, InPOG, several state governments, over 100 hospital institutions, 34 civil society organizations, and parent and survivor groups.
“We have support of many international pediatric oncology organizations. If we want to reach the 60% survival goal targeted by WHO, we have to improve Access to Care from the 30% that is currently. And that will only happen if childhood cancer gets a clear place in the country’s cancer control plan and NPCDCS. We want a national plan for childhood cancer.”
Majority of Children with Cancer in Low and Middle-Income Countries
In a worldwide virtual event, WHO highlighted that the vast majority of children with cancer live in low and middle-income countries (LMIC), where they face unacceptable inequities in early detection, diagnosis, and access to quality treatment and palliative care.
While 80% children will survive in developed countries, survival rates in LMICS is about 20%. The inferior outcomes suffered by children in LMIC are a threat to social cohesion, economic prosperity and achievement of global targets included in the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Undiagnosed cancers in children in India is estimated at 49%, which implies that of the 76,800 children aged 0-19 years, who have childhood cancer each year, only half are diagnosed
To address these profound inequities, WHO’s Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer (GICC) has set a target to achieve at least 60% survival for children with cancer by 2030 and to reduce suffering for all. One million children with cancer can be saved in the next decade.
Opening the two-hour long virtual event, from its HQ in Geneva, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said, “The goal is to give all children with cancer the best chance to survive, to live full and abundant lives and to live and die without suffering. Working across borders, sectors and disciplines, we can create a better future for children with cancer.”
“Undiagnosed cancers in children in India is estimated at 49%, which implies that of the 76,800 children aged 0-19 years, who have childhood cancer each year, only half are diagnosed. Outcomes for children in India could be dramatically improved by addressing key issues such as lack of Access to Care and delayed diagnosis,” says Lancet Commission on Pediatric Oncology Co Author, Ramandeep Arora, MD Max Hospital, Hony Head Cankids Research Department, Secretary of India Pediatric Onoclogy Group (InPOG).
In India, a month long ICCD campaign across 68 cancer centres with the theme “Better Survival for Children with Cancer – Through Our Hands” was launched on February 7th by Member Health Niti Aayog, Dr. Vinod Paul. Children across the country will present hand printed tree-of-life-theme dream catchers to heads of cancer hospitals.