Monday, 11 June 2018

Umbilical Cord Blood Banking in India - A Complete Rip-Off


Why is Umbilical Cord Blood Important?

The blood in the umbilical cord us a source of STEM CELLS. These are special cells which have the ability to grow and develop into many different cell types in the body. They are thus of use in many diseases including cancer.

Then should one not store their umbilical cord blood?

The answer to this is Yes and No. The idea to store umbilical cord blood is a good one. The problem is that those who are storing and paying for storing it are being misled. They are assuming that this umbilical cord blood would be of use to them in the future. This is far from true. The chance that the umbilical cord blood stem cells would be used by those who donated them is 1 in 1000 to 1 in 200,000.

So who is misleading us?

We are being misled by false advertising and marketing of companies who bank umbilical cord blood as a for-profit private enterprise i.e. PRIVATE CORD BLOOD BANKING. We are being misled by the celebrities who endorse this practice. We are being misled by those doctors who promote this practice.

So is all umbilical cord blood banking bad?

No, banking umbilical cord blood in PUBLIC CORD BLOOD BANKS is good and is likely to be of much more use. Please see below a list of public sector cord blood banks.

Where can I get further information?

Also, if you want more detailed information on this from an unbiased source, please click on this link which is the Indian Academy of Pediatrics position statement on umbilical cord blood banking

Sunday, 18 February 2018

International Childhood Cancer Day 2018


15th Feb is celebrated as International Childhood Cancer Day every year across the world. This day celebrates those who have successfully conquered this disease and remembers those who did not make it. It spotlights the problem and the solutions. It brings together all stakeholders who are fighting to address this problem.


On this occasion several international and national organisations take a renewed pledge of commitment to these patients. Below are two press releases - the first by SIOP and CCI and the second by Cankids

Together for Advancing Cures, Transforming Care, Instilling Hope

Geneva, Switzerland - February 15, 2018 - International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) is celebrated around the world each year on February 15th. Originally commemorated in 2002, ICCD is a day founded by ChildhoodCancer International (CCI), a global network of 188-member organizations in 96 countries. Childhood Cancer International is committed to advancing cures, transforming care, and instilling hope for all children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer in the world, wherever they may live. Established in 1969, the InternationalSociety of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP), with over 1500 healthcare professional members, is the lead organization concerned with the issues of treating children and young people who have cancer. SIOP is committed to improve childhood cancer care globally through education, supporting and improving clinical and basic research and advocating for childhood cancer on a global level. Both societies share a long and fruitful synergistic cooperation. 

Childhood Cancer International and SIOP are not alone in recognizing the devastating impact of childhood cancer on children and families around the globe. In September 2011, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly issued a Political Declaration recognizing four major Non-Communicable Diseases/NCDs (cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease) as the greatest killers of adults and children. 

Sadly, childhood cancer continues to be the leading cause of non-communicable related death in children throughout the world. Globally, more than 300,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. Approximately 80 percent of our world’s children with cancer live in low-middle-income countries (LMICs) where more than 80 percent of these children die of their disease. In developed countries like the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan and others, more than 80 percent of children survive cancer with hope to live productive and meaningful lives. 

On December 13, 2017 a new report from WHO and the World bank revealed that approximately half of the world’s population, including children, do not have access to essential health services and that 800 million people spend at minimum 10 percent of their household income on health-related care. Childhood cancers are often curable but too many children and adolescents have no hope to overcome their disease simply because they were born in a country entrenched in poverty resulting in late diagnosis, lack of access to life-saving essential medicines and appropriate treatment. As childhood cancer organizations, we know only too well that the associated cost to treat a child with cancer can be a burden that too many families simply can’t overcome. We support the need for universal access to essential medicines and healthcare for all children in the world diagnosed with cancer. In order for this to happen, CCI and SIOP agree that making childhood cancer a national and global child health priority is a critical first step towards increasing access to treatment and reducing childhood cancer mortality. 

All children in the world deserve hope for a cure - no matter where they live - not more excuses. We can no longer sweep this issue “under the rug.” Children are the future of our country and our world. Their vitality is the heartbeat of our world, a shared passion that can unite us because our future as a global community depends on it. 

On International Childhood Cancer Day, all members of Childhood Cancer International and SIOP stand united to make childhood cancer a national and global child health priority to ensure there are adequate resources to meet the basic rights of children with cancer. We believe those basic rights for all children diagnosed with cancer include: 

  • The right to early and proper diagnosis;
  • The right to access life-saving essential medicines;
  • The right to appropriate and quality medical treatments, and; 
  • The right to have access to sufficient palliative care;
  • The right to follow up care, services and sustainable livelihood opportunities for survivors. 
There can be no more ‘but.’ United together towards a shared vision we can advance cures, transform care, and instil hope. For further actions please visit the official ICCD 2018 Campaign Website www.internationalchildhoodcancerday.org 

RAISE YOUR VOICE TOGETHER WITH CHILDREN WITH CANCER 
I DESERVE – MY CHILDHOOD MY LIFE

New Delhi 15th February 2018 
February 15th is celebrated worldwide as International Childhood Cancer Day – aimed at creating awareness and advocating for childhood cancer as much for honoring the bravery and courage of children fighting cancer in our State, country and worldwide. 

Internationally Childhood Cancer Day is spearheaded by Childhood Cancer International – an umbrella organization of 188 parent, survivor and social support organizations like Cankids, in collaboration with SIOP (International Society of Pediatric Oncologists). http://www.cankidsindia.org/iccd-2018.html

Every year Cankids Kidscan, National Society for Change for Childhood Cancer, and member of Childhood Cancer International (CCI) celebrates ICCD across the country. Last year, 1580 children with cancer from 21 cities across India attended the ICCD celebrations. Children at all centers visited a monument of the city to celebrate ICCD and teachers educated children about the monument and how it symbolizes victory in some battle. The “We Are One” Childhood Cancer solidarity song was translated into regional languages and sung by children in different cities.

This February 15th, 2018 happy to inform you that this year we are doing it in a much bigger and grander way together with many other NGO partners and childhood cancer treating centers. 

Our theme for ICCD is Go Gold India – Mera Haq, Mera Bachpan, Mera Jeevan – I Deserve My Childhood My Life. Families will participate in “I Deserve competitions and we will have kite making activities at the Learning activity Clinics in OPD and Wards, where children will make kites and together with their families write their prayers and messages. Children will be taken for an outing to a park where they can fly kites. The messages on the kite will reflect our theme and advocate to the governments that “Childhood Cancer should be a Child Health Priority in India”. We will be celebrating ICCD at all our 51 centers as well as those of our partners, across India. 

Childhood Cancer is the low hanging fruit for a country’s cancer control program. In 2015 Cankids…KidsCan Launched The Go Gold India- Survivor Led Advocacy Campaign with 8 demands – To make Childhood Cancer Child Health Priority in India- a clear childhood cancer control plan and policy, more and dedicated pediatric oncology cancer centers, better and qualified manpower and health professionals, affordable but quality treatment and drugs, focused interventions for specific childhood cancers that are highly curable like Hodgkins Lymphoma, Retinoblastoma (eye cancer) and Wilms Tumor (kidney cancer), acceptance of the age of childhood cancer upto 18 years of age, and family and civil society engagement

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Supporting Childhood Cancer Treatment in Punjab - Government of Punjab joins other Stakeholders

Childhood cancer almost never figures on the government radar. And we all realize that this is a critical component if we have to have real success in true control of childhood cancers in India. Individuals and organisations – where from the healthcare sector or the non-governmental sector can only do so much.

Over the last couple of years, Cankids has been actively engaging and lobbying with state governments – of Tamil Nadu and then Uttar Pradesh. Earlier this week they had a very fruitful meeting with the Punjab Government. I am sharing some news stories with you in this regard.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/cashless-cancer-treatment-for-all-below-18-punjab-health-minister/story-YeYJtKKcAbV584lwOqqneK.html

http://www.babushahi.com/full-news.php?id=63475&headline=Cashless-Cancer-treatment-for-children-at-18-empanelled-Punjab-hospitals

The Punjab government represented by the Punjab health minister Brahm Mohindra and his team joined the medical community – Dr Shruti Kakkar from DMC Ludhiana, Dr Joseph John from CMC Ludhiana, Dr Amita Mahajan from Apollo, New Delhi as well as Dr Scott Howard from World Child Cancer and International Society of Pediatric Oncology. The parent/patient support groups and civil society was represented by Cankids.

At a open meeting hosted at Government Medical College Patiala, several announcements were made including
  • Extend cashless cancer treatment for the children at the 18 empanelled hospitals
  • To provide tertiary health services to each and every child of state suffering from cancer
  • commenced first of its kind ever special awareness programme for children suffering from cancer
  • Under the Chief Minister Cancer Relief Fund scheme, cancer patients will be given Rs 1.5 lakh for treatment
  • The health department is also imparting special training to medical officers, staff nurses and auxillary nursing midwives (ANMs) to conduct tests concerning cancers, especially among children and women in rural areas
Of course, this is but the first step. Continued action will lead to change and that remains to be seen.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Childhood cancer in India and abandonment of treatment

I have often touched upon the phenomenon of abandonment of treatment in this blog. This happens when a child either does not start treatment or does not complete treatment. If this happens, then the child is likely not to get cured of their cancer. One may ask, why would a print not get their child treated appropriately. But this is the reality. Abandonment of treatment is the culmination of many inter-related factors.

Recently a journalist Ankur Paliwal contacted me as he wanted to highlight this issue. He met others as well and has published a nice piece which tries to bring together all viewpoints and highlights very well, the social problem that abandonment of treatment is. I would urge you to read it by clicking on the link https://scroll.in/pulse/844442/children-are-dying-of-cancer-for-lack-of-money-even-those-that-get-free-medical-treatment

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Confession of a Pediatric Oncologist

Confession of a Pediatric Oncologist



This a personal piece written by Dr Daniela Cristina Stefan, a paediatric oncologist based in Cape Town, South Africa. Her thoughts typifies our experiences as a treating doctor of children with cancer.