‘Most children with cancer malnourished’
Children who are malnourished become less compliant to treatment such as chemotherapy as compared to normal children, said Tata Memorial Hospitalmumbai Updated: Aug 19, 2016 23:25 IST
Two out of three children with cancer who take treatment at Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) in Parel are malnourished, said the hospital doctors on Friday. Malnourishment in cancer-struck children reduces the cure rate by 40%, they added.
“Most government and administrative funding focuses on treatment. However, nutrition for children with cancer is something that hasn’t received much attention,” said Dr Brijesh Arora, paediatric oncologist, TMH. He added that children who are malnourished become less compliant to treatment such as chemotherapy as compared to normal children.
To improve nutrition among children, doctors at TMH along with a non for profit organistion, Cuddles Foundation, have been giving them a special pudding, butter and buttermilk for over a year now. “This pudding, also called Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), contains peanut butter, vegetable oil, sugar and milk. The nutritional value of one portion of RUTF is equivalent to a plate full of sabji, roti, dal and rice,” said Dr Arora.
Health experts at TMH said children accept these foods easily and many have gained weight too since the programme rolled out.
Purnota Bahl, founder of Cuddles Foundation, said the hospital has also a hired nutritionist in the paediatric unit who counsels mothers about nutrition and sanitation. “Once every month, we call mothers of all the children taking treatment and counsel them about what should the child eat,” she said.
Her foundation has also rolled out a ‘ration progamme’ that supplies a family’s month-long ration requirement. “More people should come forth and donate ration,” said Bahl.