Serious fun, Loose Mushaira, a comedy by Anwar Maqsood, Moin Akhter, Qazi Wajid, Behroze Subzwari, Shehzad Raza and Ishmal was Aga Khan University Cancer Support Group’s first fundraising event to raise support for patients in need of chemotherapy but unable to afford it.
Concerned by the costs of a complete cycle of cancer treatment – average costs are Rs. 600,000 – for low-income patients, a number of philanthropists formed The Cancer Support Group in 2007 to expand the efforts being made by Aga Khan University Hospital’s Patient Welfare Programme. The Group is assisted by a technical committee of leading oncologists who review and recommend the patient to be assisted financially. Cases are reviewed on a needs basis, taking into account the severity, prognosis and progression of the disease and a patient’s financial needs. In the short time since 2007, donors have generously pledged Rs 23 million so far.
Cancer is occurring more frequently and in younger people in the developing world. In Pakistan, in 2005, 85,000 died from some form of cancer and 62 per cent of those were under the age of 70. By 2030, WHO estimates that deaths from cancer in Pakistan will rise from 6.1 per cent to 10.4 per cent. More than half the people diagnosed with cancer will receive chemotherapy, a drug treatment used to stop cancer cells from spreading. For millions of people, chemotherapy has helped treat their cancer effectively, enabling them to enjoy full, productive lives. The Cancer Support Group is helping those in need to receive chemotherapy treatment.