Join­ing hands to fight cancer

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

LAST WEEK wit­nessed a mean­ing­ful event in the fight against cancer in this coun­try. A great part­ner­ship was forged be­tween Makna and AirAsia to raise funds and in­crease aware­ness. Ev­ery year, thou­sands of Malaysians are af­flicted by the dis­ease and many, espe­cially those from the lower rung of the so­cioe­co­nomic lad­der, face a daunt­ing risk of not re­cov­er­ing from the scourge. It is not be­cause the dis­ease is un­treat­able, but more be­cause they can­not af­ford proper treat­ment. This is in­deed un­for­tu­nate if not most un­fair.

Makna was founded to en­sure that such in­ci­dents are mit­i­gated as much as pos­si­ble by pro­vid­ing sup­port to cancer pa­tients who are poor, as they take on what could be the big­gest fight of their lives. Ad­mit­tedly, Makna can­not do it alone espe­cially when time is of the essence, and the num­bers of those af­fected are beyond its reach. On aver­age there are no fewer than 5,000 new cases that reach Makna yearly re­quest­ing for some fi­nan­cial aid to treat cancer pa­tients, their travel to and from place of treat­ment, or even from sur­vivors, who wish to con­tinue with their ed­u­ca­tion. Not sur­pris­ingly this num­ber is ex­pected to in­crease.

Com­bine this with the ris­ing cost of liv­ing espe­cially with an un­favourable eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion and the in­tro­duc­tion of GST, the chal­lenge for Makna, and the thou­sands of pa­tients, can be of grave con­cern. A case in point is when Makna’s re­cent ap­pli­ca­tion for ex­emp­tion from pay­ing GST was re­jected. Con­se­quently, it casts a more un­ten­able shadow espe­cially for the needy and des­ti­tute. As a not-for­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion with a hu­man­i­tar­ian mis­sion we have no al­ter­na­tive but to appeal to be granted ex­emp­tion from the GST, in the hope that it will eventually touch the hearts of the pow­ers that be to em­pathise with the cancer suf­fer­ers. While it has been Makna’s prac­tice to act with pru­dence to stretch ev­ery ring­git, any ad­di­tional sup­port goes a long way to en­sure that more de­serv­ing pa­tients are able to re­ceive aid with­out any in­ter­rup­tion and de­lay. In sav­ing lives, and al­le­vi­at­ing suf­fer­ing, the im­por­tance of time can­not be overem­pha­sised. A de­lay of a sec­ond could cost one or more lives and un­war­ranted agony. Such is the case to ur­gently lift GST in the fight against cancer.

As we wait for this to hap­pen, Makna is not rest­ing on its lau­rels. It is op­ti­mistic that ev­ery cloud has a sil­ver lin­ing and that good­will and the gen­eros­ity of donors can do mir­a­cles. This took place last week when Makna was hum­bled by AirAsia’s of­fer to match the no­ble mis­sion of pro­vid­ing cu­ra­tive, pre­ven­tive, re­search and sup­port ser­vices to cancer pa­tients, their fam­i­lies, high-risk groups and the gen­eral pub­lic.

AirAsia has lifted the Makna car­rier in ex­tend­ing care and raised the flag of con­cern and aware­ness by tak­ing pains to un­der­stand what cancer means to the lives of many in bring­ing com­fort to them and their loved ones. Ul­ti­mately, this means cancer pa­tients will have a bet­ter chance at sur­vival, and thanks to the gen­eros­ity, there is also a bet­ter chance at strik­ing back against cancer. On this pos­i­tive note and on be­half of ev­ery­one at Makna, in­clud­ing the pa­tients un­der our care, we would like to once more say a heart­felt thank you to ev­ery­one at AirAsia, as well as the pas­sen­gers who have made this pos­si­ble, for the out­stand­ing ef­fort put in to give greater hope to the cancer pa­tients.

In re­al­ity, how­ever the war against the cancer scourge is far from over, and this means there is still plenty of room for other or­gan­i­sa­tions to part­ner Makna as did AirAsia in re­al­is­ing the dream that “now ev­ery cancer pa­tient can se­cure treat­ment”.

The writer is a mem­ber of Makna’s board of trus­tees. Com­ments: let­ters@the­

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