The region has a long way to go in terms of medical facilities. The infrastructural backlog affects the diagnosis and treatment for life-threatening diseases like cancer. More and more tend to travel to metros like Delhi and Mumbai for treatment. In fact, in a study conducted by the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, it was revealed that nearly 40 percent of the overall cancer cases were patients from the Northeast.
In the region, one of the biggest issues faced by young children getting treated for cancer and their parents is the lack of decent accommodation. This leads them to either abandon the treatment or stay in unhygienic conditions that further weakens the already deteriorating immune system of the child. St Jude India Child Care Centres (SJICC or St. Judes) hopes to come to the aid of families who are in need. Founded by Shyama and Nihal Kaviratne in 2006, St Judes is not-for-profit organisation that offers children, suffering from cancer and their accompanying parents, hygienic and cost-free accommodation while they receive life-saving treatment at hospitals in large cities. They have 37 centres in eight cities across India.
‘The clean facilities at St. Judes and the nutrition helps young patients battle infections and reduces susceptibility to secondary infections. This coupled with educating the children and their parents about healthy nutrition, cleanliness and hygiene has led to improved immunity and thus decreased infections in these children. St. Judes also has a community feeling and staying together helps the parents and children rely on each other and give other emotional support which is so needed during the intensive phase. Besides St. Judes also provides the children with all round care that includes education, art, craft and counselling. This reduces the trauma they are suffering from and enables them to focus on treatment. The transportation facility ensures they reach the OPD on time, to take treatment on time. Overall, this holistic care is improving outcomes for children at these centres. We also feel this has lead to reduction in bed occupancy as the children can be shifted to St. Jude till the next cycle and this allows us to treat more children,’ shares Prof.ShripadBanavali, MD Head, Department of Medical &Pediatric Oncology, Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai.
In November 2017, the organisation was invited to set up a centre for children under treatment at Dr. B Borooah Cancer Institute, Guwahati. The hospital was taken over as a grant-in-aid institute of the Department of Atomic Energy and would be a unit of Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Centre. By accepting the offer, St. Judes took its first steps into the largely under-served Northeast region.
‘We are happy to extend our network of centres to the Northeast to provide a hygienic, protective, nurturing environment to give children the best chance of beating cancer by allowing them to recuperate and lead a full, healthy life. Thanks to the support of our partners, Dr. B Borooah Cancer Institute, Tata Memorial Hospital and supporters Roche and the Gupta family, we are able to offer the same quality of shelter in Assam as we do at our centres in Mumbai, said CEO, Anil Nair.
St. Judes operates out of Jironi Ghar 1, a guesthouse next to the hospital that has been converted into two centres, which houses 24 families. These centres have been operational since December 2018, but were formally inaugurated on February 10, 2019.
To know more, visit our website: http://www.stjudechild.org