The Kidwai Institute of Oncology in Bengaluru is planning an upgrade of its facilities to better serve the poor cancer patients. The only state cancer institute in the city is planning an in-premise expansion by setting up a radiotherapy unit.
To be upgraded at an additional cost of Rs 120 crore, the foundation stone for the building will be raised on Dec 23 by the President of India Pranab Mukherjee. The building will be construction in an area of one acre, and will be completed in a period of one and a half years after complete installation.
The institute treats an estimated 1.5 lakh patients living in the state at any point of time, with around 50,000 new cancer patients across the state every year, which includes all types of cancer.
Speaking of the development to Mirror, director of the institute Dr KB Lingegowda, said, “The state cancer institute will have a radiotherapy unit that will be set up at a cost of Rs 90 crore. The department of radiotherapy will have a set of four Linac machines that will be used to treat patients with cancer. An exclusive bone marrow transplant unit will also be set up along with surgical robotic machines that will be used in the treatment of patients with blood cancer. As of now, state-run hospitals do not have any such independent unit.”
“The Rs 120 crore grant-in-aid has been sanctioned by the ministry of health and family welfare out of which Government of Karnataka will grant 25 per cent of the sanctioned amount under the tertiary cancer treatment scheme of National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke (NPCDS), for the purchase of equipment and construction activities in various departments of the oncology institute.”
Most of the estimated figures of cancer patients are from the rural areas, with the affordability for radiotherapy treatment being a major challenge for such people. Kidwai is the only recognised regional cancer centre in the state. There is one other government cancer hospital, but not recognised.
As further reported by Mirror, Dr Vishal Rao, a senior oncologist and a member of the high power committee of tobacco control, says, “With an increase in the number of cancer patients every year, it has struck the state government that it is high time cancer treatment is made accessible to the common man considering that 80 per cent of cancer patients come from a poor socioeconomic class. Because of their low income, many people do not have the purchasing power and prefer not being treated at all. With the standardisation of health care, the treatment delivery will hopefully improve.”
Even though the scheme covers many people who suffer cancer there is a cap of Rs 1.5 lakh, which is not enough to meet the treatment costs of cancer. Dr Rao adds that in cases of deadly cancers like leukaemia, there are constant advancements in treatment and newer drugs are available in the market though at a very high cost.
“Most of these drugs are not covered under the scheme. A bone marrow transplant that would cost up to Rs 15-20 lakh for one patient is also not covered under the scheme. The scheme just helps to cover the basic premise of the treatment but the indirect costs are very high,” he said.