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Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute facing uncertain future

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Feb 19 � Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute, set up in 1973, is now facing an uncertain future because of the failure of the North Eastern Council (NEC) to release its share on time and the Assam Government as well as the management of the Institute are of the view that it should be taken over by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) of the Government of India.

The Institute was formed by the B Borooah Cancer Society Trust in 1973 to cater to the needs of the cancer patients of not only Assam but also of the other States of the North East region. The Institute was taken over by the Assam Government in 1986, but later, in 1989, a tripartite agreement was signed between the Assam Government, NEC and the DAE for sharing the recurring and non-recurring expenditures of the Institute. The agreement is renewed every five years and the current one will expire in March 2017. Renewing of such agreements every five years always puts the Institute in a precarious position and the hospital management is of the view that the problem would be solved if it is taken over by the DAE.

The Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital in Mumbai is run by the DAE, while the Department is also planning to set up two such institutes in Andhra Pradesh and Punjab. Under the circumstances, there is no reason why the Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute, which provides treatment to the cancer patients of the entire North Eastern region, cannot be taken over by the DAE.

Official sources told The Assam Tribune that under the present agreement, the NEC has to provide 70 per cent of the money required for the recurring expenses, while the Assam Government has to provide the rest 30 per cent. The non-recurring expenses have to be shared equally by the DAE and the NEC. But, unfortunately in the last three years, the NEC has not been able to release its share to the desired extent, which created problems for the Institute.

Under the present circumstances, the Assam Government has already requested the Centre to allow the DAE to take over the Institute. But the Union Cabinet will have to take a decision in this regard.

Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute, Guwahati, is the only comprehensive cancer centre catering to the needs of the eight North Eastern States. The Institute is located on a plot of 14 acres of land. It has 165 regular and 135 contractual employees at present. It is a 209-bed hospital and about 9,000 new cases are registered in the Institute annually. Approximately 40,000 patients visit the Institute every year for regular check-up.

The Institute also conducts various academic courses under the Srimanta Sankardeva University of Health Sciences, Assam, and the Gauhati University. PhD programme, MD in Radiotherapy, two years Postgraduate Fellowship Programme in Head and Neck Oncology and Gynaecologic Oncology, three years MSc course in Radiological Physics, two years Postgraduate Diploma Programme in Radiotherapy Technology and Radiography and many other paramedical courses.

Various research projects are conducted under DBT Centre for Molecular Biology & Cancer Research of Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute with grants-in-aid from ICMR and Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.

As per Population Based Cancer Registry of National Cancer Registry Programme of ICMR, incidence of cancer in Assam is third highest in the country after Mizoram and Meghalaya. In view of large number of population of the State of Assam and limited cancer treatment facility, it is of utmost importance that Dr. B. Borooah Cancer Institute should be developed into a Central Institute of Excellence for cancer treatment, education and research.

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