GUWAHATI, March 10 - With the Northeast witnessing very high incidence of cancer, the takeover of the Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute by the Government of India is likely to see a major boost in treatment facilities. Already steps have been initiated to augment manpower facilities in the institute to cater to the need of the patients of the entire region.
Established in 1973, the Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) was recognised by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India as Regional Cancer Centre in 1980. More than 12,000 new cancer patients visited the institute and 80,000 consultations were provided during 2017.
From 1989 to 2017, the institute was funded by the North Eastern Council, Government of Assam and the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India, but paucity of funds was always a major problem faced by the institute. For the period from 2012 to 2017, a provision of Rs 197 crore was made for recurring and non-recurring expenditure of the institute. However, during this five-year period, the institute received only Rs 96 crore. This had affected infrastructure upgradation and smooth functioning of the institute.
When contacted by The Assam Tribune, the institute�s director Dr AC Kataki revealed that considering the high incidence of cancer and limited facilities in the Northeast, the Cabinet Committee on Security under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to take over BBCI as a grants-in-aid institute of the Department of Atomic Energy and as a unit of the Tata Memorial Centre (Mumbai).
The institute came under the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India on November 27 last year. All the employees of the BBCI will come under the payroll and other benefits of the Central government and the institute will be completely funded by the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India.
Dr Kataki said that one of the main objectives of the new management of the institute is to improve the standard of care by raising the human resources and upgrading infrastructure. He said new schemes would be taken up on a priority basis and detailed talks were held with the patients and attendants to chalk out such a plan.
The institute has already expanded its staff strength with 59 new appointments. The institute that had earlier faced acute shortage of nurses has recruited new nursing staff � 24 new nurses have already joined while 11 more are to join soon. The institute also has a shortage of specialist doctors for which advertisement has been published for six faculty positions.
The Cabinet committee has already sanctioned 166 regular posts in the institute which include 66 nursing staff, 15 specialist doctors, 40 resident doctors and other staff. The recruitment process will start soon.
In addition to this, during the last four months, 10 new doctors have joined the institute. On a daily basis, around 70 patients receive day care chemotherapy for which there were 20 beds and patients had to wait for long hours. To reduce the waiting hours, the BBCI has introduced eight more day care chemotherapy beds recently.
It was also observed that earlier a patient had to wait for a long time at various counters, like registration, cash, etc., which caused a lot of inconvenience to them. To partially overcome this problem, the BBCI has introduced additional counters for registration, billing, blood sample collection, etc.
As anti-cancer drugs are expensive, to give succour to patients, the BBCI has decided to establish a pharmacy of its own for which five pharmacists have been appointed and sent for training to the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. Within 2-3 months, the pharmacy will be operational and subsidized anti-cancer drugs will be provided to patients at prices similar to the Tata Memorial Hospital.
Almost 270-300 patients are treated daily in the BBCI radiotherapy department. At present, the institute has five teletherapy machines and there is a waiting period for treatment. The Department of Atomic Energy has placed an order for one more state-of-the-art linear accelerator machine at a cost of Rs 14 crore and a high-end CT scan machine at a cost of Rs 4 crore. Tender has also been floated for procurement of a high dose rate brachytherapy machine at an approximate cost of Rs 3.50 crore.
A building for housing the PET-CT machine has been constructed and the Tata Memorial Centre is actively considering installation of the same at the BBCI at the earliest.