GUWAHATI, July 8 � Severe shortage of cancer treatment facilities in the North-east has become a matter of serious concern, forcing thousands of patients to go to the hospitals in other parts of the country spending substantial amounts of money. There is urgent need for increasing the number of cancer treatment centres, particularly in the semi-urban and rural areas in the region. This was the view expressed by Debashis Sarma, who recently took over as the general secretary of the Cancer Care India, an umbrella organisation of around 40 non-government organisations working for the benefit of cancer patients in different States of the country.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Sarma, who is the founder chairperson of Deepshikha, an NGO working for the well being of the cancer patients of Assam since 2004, said that shortage of cancer treatment facilities is a major problem in the region.
�Around 10,000 patients go to Mumbai every year for cancer treatment and around 15 to 20 patients go to the Tata Memorial Hospital there every day through the help desk of Deepshikha,� he said. He also pointed out that the patients have to spend a substantial amount of money for their treatment outside whereas every patient does not have the resources.
Sarma, who is serving as the Deputy Resident Commissioner in the Assam House, Mumbai, said that there are also occasions when patients have to wait for more than 15 days for getting radiation treatment because of shortage of treatment facilities. He admitted that the existing hospitals cannot be blamed for the delay as they are overburdened. He said the Cancer Care India will put pressure on the Central and concerned State governments to set up new cancer treatment facilities in different parts of the North-east.
According to a report, every year around two lakh new cancer patients get registered with the hospitals in the country and it is an established fact that the number of cancer patients per one lakh population in the North-east is much higher than the national average. Under the circumstances, the Government of India will have to come forward to help the concerned states to set up additional treatment facilities immediately. Sarma said early detection is vital for treatment of cancer patients and only setting up of more treatment facilities can be helpful. Moreover, there is an urgent need for launching awareness programmes at various levels, he added.
Sarma said that because of the initiative of Cancer Care India, the government has facilitated free travel of cancer patients along with one attendant on trains while going for treatment. For the next three years, the head office of the organisation will function from Guwahati.