Sun, 08 Jun 2003

Foundation provides helping hand to families of ailing children

Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Cancer is an expensive illness. Wealthy families can afford the treatments available both here and abroad, but it's a different story for low-income families.

The Kartu Sehat (health card) program has been a lifeline for these families in getting the necessary treatment for their children.

It enables them to get free basic medical treatment at public hospitals at all levels, and small reductions on high-priced cancer care.

The Indonesian Childhood Cancer Foundation (YOAI) tries to bridge the gap by cooperating with other cancer care-related organizations and contributors.

To coincide with its 10th anniversary, the foundation has presented seven renovated rooms to the pediatric division at state-run Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital (RSCM). The total value of the renovation is Rp 200 million (US$24,390).

The donation consists of a medicine preparation room, sterile treatment room, regular treatment room, regular isolation room and three sterile isolation rooms.

"We didn't do much for this project other than just channeling contributions from those who care about childhood cancer," foundation chairwoman Rahmi A.P. Tahir said at the ceremony.

"We realize that the available facilities are not enough to treat all children with cancer.

"The presence of isolation and treatment rooms is needed to improve patient management, and this in turn will increase the rate of the treatment's success."

The foundation was established on May 24, 1993, by a group of mothers who were grateful for their children's recovery from cancer.

Professionals, such as doctors and psychologists, as well as interested members of the public, later joined the group.

The foundation believes that childhood cancer is curable when caught early and it focuses its efforts on providing financial support for cash-strapped families.

"Parents can join the foundation to get help, although we limit our resources to those from the lower-income bracket," said Rahmi.

"Our members will survey the living conditions of an applicant before deciding whether to give full or only partial assistance."

Rahmi said parents with a monthly income of Rp 350,000 or lower were entitled to full support.

Siti Hayati, the mother of five-year-old Lucky Iskandar, told the Post that the foundation provided a reimbursement of up to 90 percent for the medication and treatment.

"Being a member of the foundation really aids us in helping Lucky fight his leukemia," she said.

The Indonesian Childhood Cancer Foundation can be contacted at