The COVID-19 outbreak in the last year caused a steep fall in the CSR spending of businesses. In fact, as compared to the previous year, there has been a decline of 50 per cent in CSR spending of the companies. This has led many of the causes supported by the CSR funds to suffer. One such cause is ‘free treatment of pediatric cancer patients.’
Tata memorial hospital which is run by the department of atomic energy is one of the most popular cancer treatment centres in the country. The hospital located in Parel, Mumbai provides free treatment for children under 10 years of age. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak and a lot of resources dedicated to tackling the pandemic, the funding for the free pediatric cancer treatment program has been cut down by almost 75 per cent.
As against the previous year, when the organisation was able to gather Rs. 25 crores for funding the program from CSR funds, it has managed to gather only about 25 per cent of the sum this year.
Dr S D Banavali, director (academics) at the Tata Memorial Centre has said that COVID has delivered a ‘triple punch’ to the field of pediatric cancer. He elaborated further by saying, “Firstly, there was a delay in diagnosing cancer among children. Secondly, even after the diagnosis, families found it difficult to access treatment as travelling was difficult during the lockdown months. Thirdly, because of the delay in diagnosis and starting the treatment, most affected children need advanced treatment. This means, more money is needed.”
Amid COVID-19, the centre required funding not only to run its cancer program but also to put in place all the safety measures to prevent COVID spread.
Every year, the Tata Memorial Centre treats more than 5000 children. In this year though, because of the lockdowns, there was a sharp fall in a number of registrations for cancer treatment, considering the fact that almost 60 per cent of the patients seeking treatment at the centre hail from outside Maharashtra. Now, the movement of patients is almost back to normal, however, with such a sharp cut in finances, the centre is set to face a struggle in providing treatment to all these patients.