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ALS challenge: Waste of water or a force for good??

by Shubham Pant
Monday , August 25, 2014 at 13 : 54

An interesting phenomenon happened in social media over the last few weeks: the news feed flooded with images of people dumping ice-cold water on their heads. At first look it seemed to be a plea to the weather gods to cut short this brutal summer; but turns out people were doing it to raise awareness and funding for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; a rare disease that is universally fatal.

The videos started snowballing and then came the critiques: what will happen to the money that has been collected??? Photographs of impoverished children without water started trending and the Facebook debates have begun. In between all the noise it is important to highlight an important aspect of the campaign: the increasing importance of private funding in scientific research. Government funding for medical research is stagnant in the US; whereas in India it has been non-existent; with much more emphasis in investing in bombs than drugs to treat and cure existing health care problems like malaria and tuberculosis.

Being a cancer researcher, this is frustrating as in a majority of cases, funding is directly related to finding cures for diseases. That is where I think this challenge succeeds: it is energizing people on a large scale to get involved in giving to research. The fact that so many children participating is heartening as if we expose the next generation to charitable giving: the future is bright!! As one of my friends; doctor and part time philosopher Dr Dalbir has rightly states: Passion of charity may shape your legacy; the art of giving defines the art of living. Heres the catch though: make the organizations that get your money accountable and transparent about the research funded and the outcomes of the same. Not every research will find the cure, but hopefully will be one piece of the puzzle to get closer to the cure. Here's the bottom line; don't stop now: run, bike, climb mountains, eat fried chicken: whatever it takes to donate to medical research. And yes when challenged: take that dunk of cold water: but maybe a smaller bucket next time: for Mother Natures sake!!!



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More about Shubham Pant

Dr Shubham Pant is Assistant Professor of Medicine & Director of Clinical Trials, Hematology/ Oncology Section of the Peggy and Charles Stephenson Oklahoma Cancer Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He has jump-started his own fitness program and this year, wants to inspire us to follow suit... From health tips, to videoblogging his half-marathon training, The Doctor is In, on ibnlive.com.

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