Eighty-five percent of the world’s population lives in a low-income country, such as Nepal, but not even one-third of treatment facilities for cancer are available in these countries. More than 70% of all deaths from cancer occurring worldwide are in low-income countries.
Cancer in children is one of the emerging non-communicable diseases in Nepal with significant morbidity and mortality. Unlike many adult cancers, most pediatric cancers are not associated with modifiable risk factors and are not amenable to population based screening and prevention programs. The causes of childhood cancers are largely unknown as most cancer research has focused on adult cancers.
In the developed world, most all childhood cancers are now curable. In the United States, the five-year survival rate for childhood cancer is 83.9%. In Nepal, the cure rate is a little under 40%. Children die needlessly because parents lack the resources to complete the necessary treatment. Children with cancer, even if treated, may die due to secondary infections, poor nutrition, or an inadequate blood supply.There is no health insurance in Nepal.On a recent trip to Kathmandu, the plight of these children being treated for cancer at Kanti Children’s Hospital touched our hearts. Marcel Proust wrote, “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.”With opened eyes, we met Dipesh with Ewing’s Sarcoma and Sampanna with Retinoblastoma. We met Ajay’s mother who approached asking for our help.“Children’s Cancer Nepal” was formed to give children with cancer in Nepal the same treatment options as children in high-income countries. In Jewish life, a beggar is considered to be doing the giver a favor by providing the opportunity to exercise what is called tzedakah, which is synonymous with charity but it means righteousness, fairness, and justice.“Children’s Cancer Nepal” hopes to give these children a fighting chance to live.
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