Rising cancer in Jammu: Regional Centre ill-equipped

The Cancer Centre has just one medical physicist to cater to the nearly 100 cancer patients daily who have to receive radiation in the hospital.

Written by NEERAJ SANTOSHI | Jammu | Published: February 19, 2009 1:02 pm

Despite the newly upgraded Regional Cancer Centre at Government Medical College Jammu receiving more than 1400 new cancer patients annually,the Centre has just one medical physicist to cater to the nearly 100 cancer patients daily who have to receive radiation in the hospital. Severely short of the manpower,the Centre has just 12 beds to cater to the huge rush,forcing it to refer the patients to other departments.

Sources in the hospital said that the Centre has two Cobalt radio therapy machines,one Radiation simulator and one Brachytherapy radiotherapy machine,but there is only one medical physicist to take care of the whole load of the patients.

This has led to huge problem for the lone medical physicist,who has to shuttle between the machines to ensure the functioning of the services. GMC has a heavy load of cancer patients who need radiotherapy,which works out on average around 90 to 100 patients on a daily basis. The hospital is finding it difficult to manage with limited manpower,putting extra burden on the existing staff and affecting the quality of the services offered.

The Centre has just 12 beds in its ward,while the requirement is more than 40 beds. Many cancer patients undergoing treatment have to share the same bed,as there is severe shortage of the beds in the ward. The Centre also has severe shortage of the paramedical staff. The Centre needs at least four chemotherapy nurses,but has just two. There are five radiotherapy technicians,but the centre needs a minimum of eight.

Apart from this,the Centre has just three doctors,who have to cater to the patients from the whole province. Sources said that this has led to delays and waiting for the treatment that patients receive,especially the radiation and chemotherapy. Sometimes they have the machines available,but the required manpower is not there.

A patient wishing not to be named said that he had to wait for a long time,as the Centre with its limited staff have to attend to too many patients. He said that one medical physicist can attend all the machines at the same time.

When contacted,Head of the Oncology at GMC Dr Ashutosh Gupta said more than 1400 new cancer cases are registered at the department every year,which has put a challenge before the Centre,which is short of manpower,especially the paramedics. He said that he has already sent the requisition to the higher ups and is awaiting their response.

Cancer is on rise in Jammu. Last year GMC received more than 1400 new cases,followed by more than 1300 in 2007, 1266 in 2006,1185 in 2005,1168 in 2004,1058 in 2003,996 in 2002,952 in 2000,901 in 1999,937 in 1998 and 803 in 1997.

With cancer cases on rise in Jammu,the Union Health ministry had approved upgrading the Radiotherapy and Oncology Department at GMC as Regional Cancer Centre in May last year. Only one department in a state is upgraded to a regional cancer centre. The oncology department at SKIMS in Kashmir was upgraded as regional cancer centre earlier. But owing to the different geographical conditions of the state and difficulty the patients in Jammu would have faced,to get treatment from Kashmir,Union Health Ministry approved the upgradation of the department here to regional cancer centre.

With changing lifestyle,cancer is emerging as a major health problem in Jammu. Nearly two thirds of all cancer patients require radiation therapy as the main treatment or in combination with surgery or anticancer drugs. Cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in the adult Indian population,with nearly 800,000 new cases being diagnosed annual across the country.

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