Purnota Dutta Bahl, Founder and CEO of Cuddles Foundation
An accomplished woman from Mumbai, Purnota is an avid worker in the social sector. She is the Founder and CEO of Cuddles Foundation.
“It is my deep belief that no child deserves to suffer a treatment without nutrition.”
Today, The Brand Called You podcast is pleased to welcome Purnota Dutta Bahl. An accomplished woman from Mumbai, Purnota is an avid worker in the social sector. She is the Founder and CEO of Cuddles Foundation. An organisation focused on fighting child cancer with food and nutrition. She has previously worked with Hindustan Times and Shaadi.com. Purnota is the National Award Winner for Child Welfare which is presented by the Indian President himself!
Purnota shares her personal experience and what led her to pick this particular area of social work. After meeting the cancer affected children at a government hospital, Purnota’s perspective came into light and she decided to help such kids by resourcing proper nutrition. Purnota explained how out of 60,000 kids diagnosed with cancer every year in the country, only 12,000 make it to the hospital! She talks about her foundation and its functioning. Purnota also shares how one can reach out and do their bit in helping these kids. Her initiative is spread throughout the country and has planned to expand globally in the future.
Watch the full episode to know more about Purnota’s work and the challenges our country faces when it comes to pediatric cancer.
About Cuddles Foundation:
A one of a kind Foundation, Cuddles focuses on children diagnosed with cancer. India was losing about 40% of all children under cancer treatment due to malnutrition and the inability to cope with chemotherapy. The Founder, Purnota Dutta Bahl after viewing these upsetting statistics decided to intervene with these kids and help them with better nutrition and strength so that these kids could continue their treatment.
Purnota began her journey as a social entrepreneur in 2012.
She graduated from ISB and spent close to 11 years in corporate India,
managing and heading brands for companies like Hindustan times and Shaadi.
A chance visit to Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai introduced her to the
plight of children fighting cancer in India.
There are 45,000 cases of paediatric cancer estimated every year in India. Childhood cancer is curable when a child is physically strong to take treatment. But in India, with up to 40% of children with cancer being severely malnourished at diagnosis, survival is a problem. Malnourished children have fewer chances of surviving cancer than a well-nourished child – largely because of their intolerance to Chemotherapy.
Purnota knew she could do something about it. She quit her corporate career.
Learnt about nutrition, spoke to doctors, developed a blueprint for a non-profit
and made fighting cancer with food and nutrition her mission.
She convinced some like-minded individuals with complementary skill sets from her corporate life to join her cause.
Leveraging her background as a marketer, they sent out
advocacy materials and met with doctors to get the medical community to
endorse the need for nutrition to fight childhood cancer.
Soon many Paediatric Oncologists joined the cause and became champions.
Cuddles started out as an idea and then grew to include a fresh set of volunteers
who would help execute its plan at a few key hospitals (Tata Memorial, AIIMS).
Today it works with 33 hospitals across 19 cities in the country. Within 4 years of the Cuddles Nutrition Program, Tata Memorial Hospital noticed that the treatment dropout rates among children with cancer had reduced significantly. Nutrition was a primary force.
In 2016, Cuddles was recognised by the President of India with the National Award
for Child Welfare. In 2018, with the help of volunteers Cuddles developed its
own app to aid nutritionists to grade a child’s malnourishment level and provide
appropriate counsel and aid.
Purnota has set her goals high to take Cuddles’
model of nutrition for paediatric cancer to other developing corners of the world.