“Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.”
If you’ve been a part of the childhood cancer world for any length of time, chances are you have heard the “More than 4” rally cry or seen the hashtag. It stems from the lack of federal spending on pediatric cancer research, which every year hovers just below four percent of the entire outlay by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NCI is a part of the National Institute of Health (NIH), the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research.
Federal funding for research is largely based on incidence rates. Therefore, cancers that occur more often receive more funding. This includes cancer of the breast, lung, and prostate, just to name a few. In fact, we spend more on prostate cancer research, with an average cure rate of 95% and average diagnosis age of sixty-six years, than we do on all childhood cancers combined. And the budget for 2018 threatens to increase this disparity.
The proposed 2018 budget for the NIH carries a 17.41% decrease over 2017. That amounts to a reduction of $5.674 billion. Of course, every department under the NIH’s umbrella must take a hit, and the NCI stands to lose $1.03 billion. If the NCI allocates its typical 4% to childhood cancer, that means children will lose $38 million in federal funding, which is devastating considering childhood cancer incidence rates are on the rise.
This may prompt the obvious question, “As a country, do we value our children?”
Reframing the situation, a more appropriate response may be to stop relying on the government to solve the problem. In the immortal words of Milton Friedman:
“I think the government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem and very often makes the problem worse.”
With the decrease in NIH funding, families facing a cancer diagnosis need our help to provide funding for research in hopes of finding curative treatments… now more than ever.
CURE Childhood Cancer doesn’t spend its time fighting the government. We fight for children through the funding of targeted research which is likely to have a positive impact on children within five years. Our latest grants committed more than $4 million to promising research projects including several exciting chemotherapy-based projects, as well as cutting-edge immunotherapies and T-cell treatments. CURE has also committed $4.5 million over three years for the development of a Precision Medicine Program which exists in only a small handful of pediatric cancer centers across the country. This groundbreaking program launching at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta envisions personalized, non-toxic, and curative cancer therapy for all children.
Children need better treatments and they can’t do it themselves. Especially with the federal government decreasing research dollars, we must take the lead by funding private, innovative research to give every child affected by cancer a chance at life.
Now more than ever, children need CURE.
You can be a part of this movement today. We believe that a cure to childhood cancer will be found in our lifetime, and every dollar gets us one step closer.