Childhood cancer is a field that is becoming more important to address nowadays with regards to the reduction of childhood mortality following the promising decline in deaths due to infectious diseases. In India alone, 60 000 new cases of childhood cancer are detected per year. Furthermore, whilst in the West the survival rates from these cancers are around 80%, in India the figures amount to a disappointing 40%.
The Ray of Light Foundation was created in 2002 by Dr. Priya Ramachandran whose primary goals were to; improve survival of children diagnosed with cancer, adopt children into the program who could not normally afford treatment or be able to access treatment and finally provide the best treatment possible as per Western protocols, regardless of the price, in order to give each child the best chance of survival. The children need to be treated for the entire duration of their illness; therefore the funds from the foundation need to cover 1-2 years of intensive treatment for each child. Children suffering from many different types of cancer are adopted into the program; the main selection criterion being whether or not they can afford and access treatment, not what sort of cancer they present with.
This is the only cancer foundation which completely undertakes to fund the treatment of Paediatric cancer over the entire duration of the course of treatment. The foundation not only pays for the entire treatment cost, but also ensures that the treatment is provided at a tertiary care Children's Hospital supervised by a team of Paediatric Oncologists. The nature of paediatric cancer is such that if the correct treatment is administered at the right time, the chances of cure are over 80% in our country. Most parents stop treatment because they cannot afford the entire cost which is out of reach for even an average middle class family. If the treatment is stopped half way the cancer comes back. Also, most organizations partly fund the treatment of cancer. Here also if the parents are not able to bridge the gap, the entire treatment is not completed and the cancer cannot be cured. The difference with the Ray of Light Foundation is, that the entire treatment is support for every single child and no stone is left unturned in terms of cost. Sometime the amount that has to be spent exceeds the estimate of Rs 5 lakhs but despite this the treatment is continued. This is why the foundation has shown a success of 85% survival with our children as opposed to 40 to 45% survival in most centres treating patient from the lower socio economic group. The foundation also keeps the children under long term surveillance and provide holistic support for the family. The goal is to "adopt" every child and ensure that he/she survive the cancer and goes on to lead a normal life.
All the money donated will be used only for purchase of drugs, consumables, blood products and investigations which do not existed in CHILDS Trust Hospital. This is because the foundation has an understanding with the hospital where in the hospital waives all the bed charges and lab charges for investigations. If corporates wish to sponsor one child at a time the payment for that child can be staggered over the period of 2 years and can be paid as instalments of Rs. 2.5 Lakhs per year.
With the interest from the corpus investment in HDFC Bank the foundation hopes to treat 4 to 5 children a year. In addition to this, the foundation would like to support the treatment of 5 to 10 children. We are looking to corporates to sponsor one or two children every year.
200 patients have been treated by the foundation until 2021. These children were selected because they originated from a low socioeconomic background or were not able to access good quality healthcare in the areas in which they resided.