Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pediatric cancer underfunded?

You have heard me complain on several occasions that childhood cancer funding is woefully inadequate. As of late, I have seen many take these complaints to politicians and various governmental agencies in an effort to secure more funding for our children. They often go in with pictures of bald children (our kiddos) and sad stories. That is followed by the distribution of facts like "childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of US children" and "breast cancer alone receives almost $580 million of research funding from the NCI where as all forms of childhood cancer, all 12 major groups comprising some 50+ childhood cancers, receive less the $190 million - COMBINED." All of this is the capped off with a demand that pediatric cancer deserves more funding.

Facts like that certainly illustrate the problem.

We argue and argue that pediatric cancer is underfunded. However, if you want to be any good at making a difference in funding you have to answer the question of:

"Compared to what?"

From a funding standpoint it is very rational to give breast cancer $680 million and pediatric cancer less that $190 million (as the NCI does). In a patient to patient comparison they are being funded similarly. In fact, in some cases using this methodology, some pediatric cancers are actually funded better than adult cancers like breast.

Furthermore, there are a lot more people that get breast cancer than get childhood cancer and if you want to get the most impact from your dollar then you have to spend your research dollars on projects that are going to affect the largest group of people possible. I mean think about it. Which sounds better on a government report?

A. I spent $1 billion and cured 200,000+ patients per year
B. I spent $1 billion and cured 13,000 patients per year

You see, this is the math that the government uses to fund cancer research. And, really, who can blame them? Who can argue with that logic?

I know depressing. But, if you are going to ever increase funding you have to understand this perspective. You have to develop arguments that take this philosophy into consideration and , most importantly, you have to ask for specific changes that work with the governmental funding equation.

Now, with all this being said, I genuinely believe that there are many ways to work within and around this philosophy. I can't get into them right now but I intend to cover them in the next few days. In the meantime, I want you to consider another target of your frustration.

Instead of complaining about the governmental funding of other cancers, I would like you to consider these facts.

Did you know that cancer killed more children in the US than AIDS, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and asthma - COMBINED?

Wow, yes I know.

Now, did you know that the US government sends more money out of the country to support AIDS research and treatment per year than they spend on the entire NCI budget. The NCI's budget was roughly $4.6 billion last year. President Obama’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 federal budget request, released on February 1, includes an estimated $27.2 billion for combined domestic and global HIV/AIDS activities. Domestic HIV/AIDS is funded at $20.5 billion and globally at $6.7 billion.

How is the nation's number one killer of children doing now?

That is why purpose is so desperately needed.

1 comment:

Steve said...

The big fat elephant in the room that no one is asking about is why in the world is the NCI even funding AIDS. It is not even considered a cancer.