Cancer is indiscriminate in its choosing. Every year, 11,20,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in India. Almost half of this number succumbs to this disease, with only 30% of cancer patients being able to afford necessary treatment. Lack of funds often leads to hopelessness and many just give up. The need of the hour is to make the best of available resources. For World Cancer Day, which was observed on 4 February, this list puts together five ways of raising funds for cancer.
1. Medical insurance
Medical insurance is the best pre-emptive measure for a medical emergency. Rahul Yadav from the cancer support NGO, Yoddhas explains, "Most people have only one insurance policy. Nothing stops them from getting more. While we can't choose what sicknesses we will have, we can broadly find a plan suitable for us. For example, if you have a family history of diabetes, you might want a policy that comprehensively covers diabetes."
A policy or two with good cancer cover goes a long way in easing the financial burden.
Rahul recommends having three to four policies which, in the time of need, can generate up to ₹12-16 lakh. A policy or two with good cancer cover goes a long way in easing the financial burden.
Raising funds from friends and family is the age-old way to tide over a crisis. With the internet, social networks can now be leveraged to raise funds for treatment. Not just local social networks, but also people from all over the world can financially help those in need. An online crowdfunding campaign is easy to set up, operate and track. Unlike all the other avenues, there are no eligibility criteria, and all one needs is basic knowledge of how to use the internet to tell your story. At Milaap, a fundraising platform, ₹35 lakh were raised by friends of a cancer survivor solely through their networks.
3. Funds from NGOs and private trusts
Cancer survivor networks actively fundraise to help those unable to afford treatment. "Having cancer is the kind of thing that causes a dramatic shift in your perception of life. You think of life differently," says Sushanth Kodela, the founder of unCancer India. Well-to-do celebrities and families who have survived cancer set up trust funds such as the Nargis Dutt Memorial Trust, Yuvraj Singh Foundation etc. to help cancer patients. The Indian Cancer Society, The Cancer Patient Aid Association, the Cancer Care Trust, Yoddhas and First Hand Foundation are other NGOs that help cancer patients.
4. Funds from the government
There are government sponsored schemes that a cancer patient is eligible for. The Prime Minister's National Relief Fund and schemes under the Ministry of Health and Family welfare are sponsored by the central government. State governments also sponsor relief for cancer patients.
Cancer survivor networks actively fundraise to help those unable to afford treatment.
Again, NGOs can guide patients to their local politician who can sanction these funds. In all, help for ₹1-4 lakh can be claimed from the government. There are hospitals that treat cancers at a subsidised cost. Apart from this, a 50% concession can be claimed for train and air travel done for the purpose of treatments.
5. Medical loans
For those lucky enough to not have previous arrears and loans, personal loans can be raised for medical emergencies. This source will help only those who already have a steady income and may be able to pay back their loans. The rate of interest for such loans usually ranges from 11-35% depending on the conditions under which the money is being borrowed.
Any hospital that diagnoses cancer can often connect a patient to places that give more cost-effective treatment, sources of funds and support groups that can help. Your doctor can be a great place to begin asking for more information. The important thing is to not give up hope and always reach out for help.
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