Special body to combat malnutrition among cancer kids

  • Shobhan Singh, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 23, 2014 20:59 IST

To combat malnutrition in children suffering from cancer, Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), along with NGO Cankids Kidscan, is collaborating with over 50 institutions from across the country, including centres like All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, and PGI, Chandigarh to form a special body. The National Interest Group on Childhood Cancer Nutrition (NIGccN) will ensure that there the nutrition needs of children with cancer in India are addressed.

TMH admits 2,400 children with cancer every year and, according to paediatric oncologists, approximately 50% of these children are also malnourished. It is estimated that even nationally the incidence of malnutrition is almost the same. What's worse is that there is no course or training module for nutritionists in the country that equips them to cater to children with cancer.

TMH and Cankids Kidscan, along with institutions from all over the country, formed National Interest Group on Childhood Cancer Nutrition (NIGccN). The goal of the collaboration is to ensure that there is an impact on the nutrition needs and status of children with cancer in India.

“Centres like TMH, AIIMS and PGI will provide training fellowships for nutritionists to specialise in catering to kids with cancer. And, the training will be absolutely free of cost,” said Dr Brijesh Arora, paediatric oncologist, TMH, and a key member of NIGccN.

Besides training and providing support to the centres across the country, the group will also design a national guideline for tackling malnutrition in cancer kids. “There are protocols and guidelines available internationally but none that is especially designed for Indian children with cancer. One of the main goals is to draw a national guideline for tackling malnutrition in Indian children with cancer,” said Dr Arora.

"The chance of recovery of a child with cancer, who is also malnourished, drops by 50%. And, in case of cancer kids, the nutrition needs are not the same as other children,” said Dr Arora.

The NIGccN will also ensure that any centre in need of a dedicated nutritionist, nutrition supplements for children, or calipers (devise used for measuring body fat) will be provided as much assistance as possible absolutely free of cost.

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