In Paraguay, a poor landlocked country in the heart of South America, a child with cancer has very few options. In this country, some 60% of the rural population lives below the poverty line. Children who are fortunate enough to be properly diagnosed have only a 50% survival rate over five years—in part because they may have to wait months or even years for treatment due to lack of funds or chemotherapy drugs. By contrast, the National Cancer Institute here estimates that pediatric cancer patients in the United States have a five-year survival rate of almost 80%.
The Hospital and Doctors
The Instituto Nacional del Cancer is the country’s primary referral center for children’s cancer, and receives 120 new children a year for cancer treatment. The hospital lacks essential equipment and drugs. There are no Cat scan machines to detect tumors, no day beds to let the children rest while receiving treatment and never enough chemotherapy drugs. Juvenile cancer patients travel from all over the country to be treated.