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Arrival of child patients rises at cancer hospital

08 August, 2011

KARACHI: The arrival of patients at Children Cancer Hospital (CCH) has risen to more than double during the last five years as children with cancer symptoms not only from entire Pakistan but also from Afghanistan and Iran are brought to the hospital for quality care and treatment.

Last year as many as 481 newly diagnosed childhood patients suffering from various types of cancers visited the CCH Karachi

Renowned Child Oncologist and CCH Chief Executive Officer Dr Shamvil Ashraf informed this at a media briefing here on Sunday.

Some 7,809 children, including new and previously diagnosed, were admitted from July 2010 to June 2011 to the children cancer treatment facility in Karachi.

Even the patients visiting the OPD have almost doubled from 7,967 to 15,000 since 2005-06, he informed.

The CCH Karachi is the only dedicated healthcare facility in Pakistan’s private sector, which provides complete treatment to children suffering from cancer. It has spent Rs 82 million on the healthcare facilities for children from low-income group families.

He said: “More than 7,809 children with different types of cancers were admitted to CCH for treatment and almost 70 percent of the 15,000 visits by the children suffering from cancer were provided full healthcare facilities free of cost while 20 percent of them were provided partial (upto 80 percent) support in 2010”.

Started in 2001 with six in-patient beds, the CCH has now grown into a full-fledged 28-bed specialised healthcare facility for the treatment of various types of cancers among children, Dr Ashraf said.

He said parents of hardly 10 percent of the thousands of children at CCH bore the full expenses of treatment of their children, which shows the severity of the situation of healthcare facilities in Pakistan and highlights the importance of philanthropic work in this sector.

According to him, average treatment expenditure for each child suffering from childhood cancer is upto Rs 25, 000, which includes laboratory expenses, provision of medicines, chemotherapy, radiology and radiotherapy.

“Seventy to 90 percent of all these expenses are met by the generous donations. The hospital receives donations from well-to-do people of the society, philanthropists and people who feel the pain for children suffering from cancer in a country where quality healthcare facilities are scarce,” he maintained.

To a query, Dr Ashraf said that CCH started in 2000 with a single room clinic and is now the first and last hope for the parents of unfortunate children suffering from childhood cancer. The children are referred to CCH Karachi not only from Karachi, but also from other cities of Pakistan besides Iran and Afghanistan, he added.

“All of this is happening only with the help of Allah Almighty and the people, who are supporting the hospital in provision of quality treatment, otherwise the hospital could never meet the expenses from what it charges from the patients,” he stated.

The renowned oncologist, who has trained a dozen or more paediatricians in child oncology and is assisting the authorities in establishment child oncology departments at various public health facilities, said that in the year 2011-12, they were expecting to spend around Rs 120 to 130 million only on the treatment of needy children suffering from cancer.

“This estimate is based on the growing number of children visiting CCH Karachi with various types of cancers with each passing day as an overwhelming number of children are being diagnosed with cancer these days while the facilities for treatment are very limited in the country,” he said.

“We are a philanthropic health facility and we don’t charge a single penny from parents who can’t afford treatment at a few private hospitals that offer cancer treatment to children. This is resulting in an overwhelming burden of children on CCH as we don’t have enough resources to treat all of them,” Dr Ashraf added.

CCH is currently being operated in a rented building and patients are taken to some private hospitals for surgery and advance tests under an agreement with them but efforts are underway to construct a purpose-built hospital with all facilities for cancer treatment under one roof, he said.

Dr Ashraf maintained that they started the hospital with a vision to provide diagnosis and treatment to every child suffering from cancer regardless of his or her parents’ paying ability.

“We are striving to establish CCH as a centre of excellence in Pakistan and create mass awareness about childhood cancer,” he observed, but added this was not possible without the support of community and philanthropists as treating cancer patients are a costly affair.

End.


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