SILCHAR, Jan 18 - The Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre at Silchar, in its 22 years of existence have grown with government help and without it as well. Of course, it has prospered over the years because of the inner strength of the people that drive it from within.
Prompted by the daunting task of combating the dreaded cancer disease, a group of social activists of Barak Valley formed the Cachar Cancer Hospital Society, a philanthropic non-profit NGO which is a registered body to administer the hospital activities in 1992.
However, the hospital which in the words of Mihir Kar Purakayastha, one of the founder members of the institution is faced with serious financial crisis to offer services to the patients in this remote part of the country. In a meeting held at the hospital premises at Meherpur on Monday, Kar Purakayastha said �the hospital needs Rs 4 crore, at least for overall development and there is no hope to get government aid. During the infant stages of the hospital, we were encouraged by the support extended by people from the rural areas and it seems we have to reach out to them once again.� Urban population lacks interest in extending helping hands, he lamented saying when approached with the dream project for cancer treatment in Barak Valley, people ridiculed the idea.
However, he informed that 11 bigha of land was allotted by the State Government in two phases with efforts by the district administration for the land allotment for the greater interest of the people. Eventually, former Union Minister Santosh Mohan Dev laid the foundation stone of the hospital on August 14, 1994. Former Chief Minister of Assam late Hiteswar Saikia formally inaugurated the hospital on February 10, 1996. Eminent physician of the valley and chairman of the hospital governing body Dr Chinmoy Choudhury termed the establishment of the hospital as �a herculean task.� Noted journalist and vice chairman of the hospital governing body, Prof Jyotilal Choudhury said that the hospital has been able to achieve its major objective which was to become a full-fledged hospital for cancer cure in the region but there is plenty left to be done.
Renowned oncologist and director of the hospital Dr Ravi Kannan who joined the hospital in 2007 said because of a dedicated team of doctors, support staff, management and well wishers, the hospital has been able to withstand the odds and forge ahead towards its mission to create awareness among the people about the menace of cancer and also to treat upon the patients, most of whom live below poverty line with compassion and care. �The hospital sees about 4000 new and approximately 13,000 patients on follow up every year. It serves an extremely impoverished community of patients from Barak Valley and also from neighboring States of Manipur Mizoram and Tripura.
In 2015, total number of new patients were 2,996 and of them, as many as 1,555 had been confirmed cases. 62 per cent of the patients from the tea gardens and agricultural workers who happen to be daily wage earners come to the hospital suffer loss of income during treatment. Even as the hospital makes its best effort to offer best treatment irrespective of their socioeconomic status, the hospital�s current monthly budget is around Rs 25, 00,000 and the hospital earns about 60 per cent of this from the income. Spontaneous community support is needed to keep the services continue uninterrupted,� Dr Kannan said.