by NEWSNER , 2021-02-05 11:52:05
At a time when cancer cases are increasing at an alarming rate in Meghalaya, the agony of patients has been compounded by the absence of advanced cancer care facilities and institutions in the state.
While the affluent who can afford the treatment move out of the state to avail better treatment, others invariably have to remain in the state and go through a nightmare.
Some even hope and pray that Meghalaya will one day have good cancer hospitals with experienced cancer specialists.
People also complain that the state does not have any surgical head and neck oncologist and that they have to depend on outside hospitals which burn a hole in their pockets.
A person, whose mother was diagnosed with cancer, rued the absence of proper treatment in the state, and that for mere PET CT scans, many patients from the city have to go to neighbouring Guwahati.
Such scans cost between Rs 2000 and Rs 25000 in Guwahati.
Even for radiation, many patients are forced to go to Guwahati. A dedicated cancer hospital in Guwahati charges Rs 75000 for the treatment. Over and above, patients/attendants from the state have to bear the cost of accommodation in another city.
Some say that the treatment at B Borooah Cancer Hospital in Guwahati can take a long time as the hospital is usually burdened with a good number of cancer patients from across Northeast.
A woman from the city whose father passed away on January 23 due to cancer also shared her pain, while lamenting that Shillong lacked proper facilities for effective cancer treatment.
“ I don’t blame anyone (for his death) as it was God’s will…but for the treatment of my father, only chemotherapy and surgery was available here in Shillong and we lack proper treatment of cancer,” the woman who did not wish to be identified, said. She also informed that a bone marrow cancer patient cannot afford to go outside the state for advanced treatment and hence had to be content with mere therapy.
Speaking about the overall cancer care scene in the state, director of health services (MI) Aman War said the government would be upgrading the cancer wing at Shillong Civil Hospital and new equipment for radiation and other therapies would soon be available.
“The government has also given sanction for the appointment of certain posts which are needed in the cancer wing, and once we shift the COVID wing, it will become a full-fledged cancer wing,” War said.
He stressed on the need to have a detailed study on why cancer cases are rising in the state.
“Though we have got more and better data along with improved diagnostic facilities, we need to conduct a study to find out the reason for the rising cases,” War said.
According to Population-Based Cancer Registry data of 2014 regarding the incidence of cancer cases in the country, East Khasi Hills district ranks third in males and 11th in females and first in the country for tobacco-related cancers.
The district also ranks first for esophagus and head and neck cancer cases. The trends only call for the state to have what it needs for advanced and effective cancer care and treatment before the situation spirals out of control. Meanwhile, World Cancer Day on the theme, “I Am and I Will”, was observed at the Civil Hospital here to mobilise action against cancer.
The programme was organised by the state NCD cell, district NCD cell and the department of oncology, Civil Hospital.
Speaking on the occasion, S.S. Nongbri, joint director of health services (MCH and FW) cum state nodal officer, NPCDCS (National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke) stressed the importance of early diagnosis.
Asserting that cancer is 90 per cent curable, he urged people not to be misguided by hearsay and to come forward and get themselves screened, as early detection could lead to a complete cure.
As part of the programme, testimonies were also shared by the patients who had successfully undergone treatment at the Civil Hospital. Gifts were also presented among patients currently under treatment.