India accounts for more than 25% of the world’s childhood cancer. Yet we have a Poor Access2Care ratio. Less than 34% children make it to a cancer centre. The top 10 centres see no more than 13% to 15% of children. For this reason, survival rates are less than 20%.
Launched in 2018, the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer (GICC) aims for LMIC’s like India to achieve at least 60% survival rate for children with cancer by 2030, thereby saving an additional one million lives. For reaching 60% survival, India would require 100% Access2Care.
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL), a government-owned engineering and manufacturing enterprise of India’s largest power generation equipment, announced a CSR partnership with National Society for Childhood Cancer CanKids Kidscan to achieve access to care for children from 117 Aspirational Districts of India as per the Aspirational District Programme.
There are many barriers and obstacles in Access2care from these 117 districts like distance of care centres, knowledge gap in healthcare professionals and community health workers, social stigma, lack of other supportive services, non-accessible information at treatment centre, poor public infrastructure etc.
These 117 Aspirational Districts fall within the Cankids 15 Change for Childhood Cancer In India State Projects, which aim to work with State Governments and relevant stakeholders to ensure that families get the best access to care – through appropriate knowledge of where to go, timely diagnosis and treatment, shared care and continuity of care. Cankids currently has signed MoUs as knowledge and technical partners for childhood cancer with 3 State Governments – Punjab, Maharashtra and West Bengal.
For this pan India project, BHEL has come forward to utilise its CSR fund to help children with cancer from the 117 most developmentally challenged districts thereby making its own contribution to this important government programme.
In the two last quarters (April-June and July-September of this year), 345 kids have been supported under this project. Cankids reached out to 15 state governments and the NITI Aayog. This September – during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – they organized car rallies in 12 districts from 6 states including Punjab (Moga & Ferozpur), Uttar Pradesh (Bahraich & Balrampur), West Bengal (Birbhum & Nadia), Bihar (Gaya, Vaishali & Muzaffarpur), Tamil Nadu (Virudhunagar & Ramanathapurãm) and Gujarat (Dohad). The rally teams were led by childhood cancer survivors.
Said Dr. Nalin Shinghal, CMD, BHEL, “CanKids is doing yeoman service for cancer-afflicted children, encompassing the entire spectrum of Childhood Cancer Care. Together with them we at BHEL hope this Access2Care for childhood cancer ADP project will emerge as a best practice patient centred healthcare success story from these 117 districts.” Said Mukul Marwah, Vice Chairman Cankids Kidscan, “The Access2Care model which underpins the State projects entails defining and agreeing on a 4 tier network of shared care so that together governments, hospitals, healthcare professionals, social support teams and civil society organizations like ours are able to provide the right patient navigation and support to any family of a child with cancer.”