The rapidly increasing Covid-19 crisis has put our childhood cancer warriors, healthcare workers and cancer survivors in grave danger. Highly dependent on an overloaded medical system and with low immunity, children with cancer are currently a very vulnerable segment high in terms of risk. They are already immunity compromised - and with more and more wards turning into isolation wards, might get exposed to Covid-19.
The CanKids Emergency Response team is working on this on a war footing with all stakeholders from Hospital Administrations, Doctors, Nurses, the Staff at our Centers as well as making policy level difference with the Government. In parallel our team is acting and solving ground level problems and issues:
Here are some current ground realities:
Many cancer hospitals are not admitting patients for long duration and are only doing day care chemotherapy due to Covid. As a result, CanKids is arranging for transportation (Ambulance, Food and lodging for child and their parent)
Since there is no mode of transportation except ambulance during lockdown, ambulances have to be arranged at above normal costs once permissions are arranged across state borders
Diagnostics and tests are not available and are being procured from outside vendors
CanKids has distributed masks and PPE kits to children, parents, and healthcare professionals whom we are partnering with as well as sanitizers and cleaning materials.
We have also started sanctioning Covid tests which are now becoming almost mandatory to procure new admissions
To meet these and other unexpected costs we are currently running a Covid-19 Specific fundraiser in partnership with Milaap (One of India's largest crowdfunding platforms). Click Here to know more.
A Safety Message From Our Survivor Champions
A key role our teenage and young adult childhood cancer survivors group KCK plays is to create awareness about the cause. What’s special about this group is they script perform and even make their own films. From different parts of the country our survivors have these messages for your health... and to remind you that kids with cancer have an even higher risk as they are immunocompromised.
FAQs For Families Of Children Undergoing Cancer Treatment
Q: How can covid19 affect my child who is undergoing cancer treatment? A: Although Global data shows that infection is milder in children than in adults. However a child who is undergoing cancer treatment is low on immunity and is highly susceptible to catching infections including COVID 19. It’s best at this point that preventive measures are followed strictly not just by the child but by the care givers too.
Q: What precautions should we take considering the child health status? A: The guidelines remain generic for all for the moment, but the adherence becomes more important for a child undergoing treatment. The patient and the parents are regularly provided awareness on preventive measures by the CK SST members. Even for Corona Virus, everyday preventive measures work well but constant monitoring has to be ensured on part of patient as well as the parent(s). The basic areas of preventive concerns are:
Respiratory hygiene & coughing etiquettes
Other personal hygiene
Food & water safety
Q: Should the child undergoing treatment wear face mask to protect from infection? A: Yes! Face masks play a very important role in clinical set up such as hospitals although there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings. Face masks must be worn correctly. Changed on time and remove and dispose properly Q: What should I do if my child develops a fever or any other symptoms? A: You should follow the generic treatment protocol of taking the child to the treating doctor/health care provider if your child develops fever. Your child will be assessed and treated as per local policy. If you feel that the child has had a contact with a suspected/positive COVID case, it is essential that you inform the treating doctor and follow the treatment protocol as suggested by the doctor. The HAH manager should have all related updated regularly along with the travel and social history, which must be shared with the ERC.
Q: Will there be any change of my child’s cancer treatment status on being affected with COVID? A: Any change in the treatment protocol is for the doctor to decide. But considering the cancer history, any probability of getting infected with COVID will only worsen the child’s health so take appropriate preventive measures. Currently only a few hospitals have propose to postpone the chemo therapy, radiation therapy and surgery for some time but emergency chemo therapy/radiotherapy and surgeries are being taken up. Please make sure to get in touch with the treating doctor to know the status for your ward’s treatment. If your chemo is due please speak to the doctor or contact the CK SST of that CHSU prior to going.
Q: Can I meet my relative or visitor? A: No. As an advisory by the government for your safety it’s highly suggested to not meet with any visitor because you never know what infection the visitor might be bringing along. You may however get in touch on call, video call. Remember, mobile is also a substance and can act as a potential source of transmission if not following good hand hygiene. Even within the HAH or while going to the hospital practice social distancing. Social distancing means that you must maintain a distance of at least 1 meter if not 2 from one another.
Q: Should I cancel my child’s treatment or follow up appointments at the hospital? A: This is for the treating doctor to decide. You are advised to contact your doctor or the Social Worker of that hospital (in case doctor is not reachable) to know the current status and action to be followed. The medical team will always make decisions to prioritise treatment for those in need and in consultation with patients. The chief focus will be to provide essential services, helping those most at risk to access the right treatment. Please speak to your doctor or the SST. Even the SST would be constantly taking follow ups with the patients at this time.
Q: Even if my ward is at home, can s/he still get infected? A: Yes! Even if your ward is not going out but if you are moving out and not following the basic preventive measures, you may pass on the infection to your ward. Make sure to follow a good hand hygiene practice and follow a normative practice of social distancing. Make sure to change clothes and thoroughly take bath whenever coming from outside (especially hospital). Also ensure to clean all the fruits, vegetables, milk packets etc thoroughly that you are getting from outside. Unless very urgent don’t go out.
Q: What if at the hospital there are other patients with suspected corona virus? Will they be a risk to my child? A: Although at the hospital the COVID screenings and treatment are done separately. All the positive patients are kept in isolation, away from public areas of the hospital. Any equipment that comes in contact with the suspected or positive case is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. However said the above one may never know if a person is asymptomatic but would still have the potential to spread the virus. It is thus suggested to always wear a mask while going to hospital along with maintaining a sound social distance from others.
Ques: Can i go back to my village? Ans: The child is here for a purpose which is for the completion of their cancer treatment. Your doctor will be best able to suggest as to whether you can be sent back home or not. You may discuss it with your doctor and bring it to the notice of the HAH manager. If there is some provision available post the doctors’ suggestion, the same may happen. But currently as per the current Government Advisory all means of transportation have been brought to a halt to avoid mingling of people and thereby giving rise to infection transmission.
Q: How do i keep myself update on COVID 19? A: Please be accurately informed and talk to your HAH manager in case of any doubt. There are a lot of myths on social media which can raise your stress level unnecessarily. There is no doubt that this virus has the potential to spread rapidly but one can easily protect it by effectively following the preventive measures and following social distancing as explained in the earlier two chapters.
Q: Whom should we contact at the time of doubt and/or crisis? A: The HAH Manager/Supervisor for your respective HAHs have been master trained to give you all relevant information and update on COVID 19. In case of any query related to any medical ailment or at the onset of any COVID like symptoms, the HAH managers may please contact their regional help lines or the national helpline which is 1075 to be able to take further actions and must notify the same to the Emergency Response Committee through selves or via the Regional Managers. The HAH managers may contact Emergency Committee member, Dr Nandan Chowdhary for any confusion related to medical/treatment related protocol.