The Project in Nepal: Nepal is an Asian country with a population of around 30 million people and a per capita income of about $1,500 a year. Healthcare expenses fall almost entirely on the patients and their families, and healthcare facilities are largely inaccessible for those outside of Kathmandu, the nation’s capital. Specifically, regarding Hematology, the only advanced care center is the Civil Service Hospital, in Kathmandu, where approximately 400 patients, newly-diagnosed with severe blood disorders, are seen every year. The cost of treatment for a patient with acute leukemia, or other serious blood tumors that require chemotherapy, is of around $10,000. In cases that require a Bone Marrow Transplant, a procedure which is in fact offered in Nepal as of a few years, the cost of treatment increases by 50 to 100%. As a result of this financial context, a portion of patients are not able to be treated as families cannot sustain these expenses. For many other families, there are only 2 means for covering treatment costs. The first is selling real estate or other assets otherwise essential for the families’ livelihood at a fraction of their value. The second, often pursued in conjunction with the first, is taking out loans from usurers with interest rates of 20% or more. Thus, this “financial toxicity” that can preclude a patient from being treated leads to either the patient’s death at the hands of the disease, or leads to the families’ bankruptcy.
Objective of the YOU Foundation: to engage players of local economy (government, banks, private sector) in creating a system favorable to each of them and helping patients and their families to receive cancer treatment. The long term success of this initiative will be measured by assessing: number of patients who can receive treatment, patient and family financial outcome, sustainable business model for each entity, reduction of poverty caused by unaffordable healthcare costs.