Infant Cancer Care: Cure rates for childhood cancer in Asia get a boost
Switching gears now to the subject of health and it turns out Asia has one of the lowest overall cancer rates in the world, yet patients are still much more likely to die from the disease. One of the reasons is the lack of resources for screening and treatment, especially in less developed areas. But now healthcare institutions from the United States, China, and Singapore are banding together to change that. CGTN's Miro Lu has more.
Joshua Koh is a childhood cancer survivor. He is now 12 years old. Six years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer.
JACQUELINE CHEK MOTHER OF CHILDHOOD CANCER SURVIVOR "When he was first diagnosed, it was shocking news for us. We didn't hide the truth from him, we just told him the bare facts that he has cancer, and he was just six years old, turning seven at the time, and he sort of understood in a way. He could see that we were very sad, so it must've been something horrible."
Before his diagnosis, Koh was an active young boy who played basketball every day. Although he is currently in remission, which means there are no traces of cancer cells in his body, the treatment has weakened him. He now has osteoporosis and a slight cataract, so basketball is out of the question for the time being.
JACQUELINE CHEK MOTHER OF CHILDHOOD CANCER SURVIVOR "He kept asking me, 'Why me?' Which I couldn't answer him. I felt really sad. I just told him that either he wants to get himself cured, or we have to go the other way. But he understood, he told me he doesn't want to die, that was the main thing. He wanted to be treated and get well. So it was a very long and hard journey."
Cancer treatments are expensive, and it takes a toll on the family. But the Kohs received help from VIVA Foundation, an NGO in Singapore that helps children with cancer.
In its latest effort, VIVA Foundation announced on March 2nd that medical institutions from the US, China, and Singapore are joining forces to ramp up cure rates in childhood cancer in Asia. The cross-border alliance will allow participating healthcare institutions in the three countries to share resources, expertise, and database.
Mrs. Jennifer Yeo is the chairperson for VIVA Foundation. She started this NGO because her son was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was a child, and was treated successfully in the U.S..
JENNIFER YEO CHAIRPERSON, VIVA FOUNDATION "VIVA Singapore and VIVA China hope to build the bridge between the U.S. and China. The U.S. has high cure rates and expertise, and China has big numbers. So together we can save many lives."
Although Asia has the lowest cancer rates in the world, the mortality rate is the highest. Some doctors also estimate that half of the childhood cancers in Asia, especially in rural areas, are undiagnosed.
The hope is that, with this concerted effort by healthcare institutions, it would help to accelerate the research into childhood cancers. This would arm doctors in the region with more knowledge of the disease, and help them devise better treatments in the foreseeable future. Miro Lu, CGTN, Singapore.