Gulbarga cancer center, RIP

Gulbarga cancer center, RIP

Neglect by Kidwai institute and govt has killed the center which catered to the poor in H-K

Director in charge of the KMIO, Dr Vijaykumar has hit the last nail in the PCC’s coffin by transferring the entire 36 staffers of the unit to KMIO, Bangalore. The order has served a death blow to hundreds and thousands of poor cancer patients of the Hyderabad-Karnataka districts and its neighbouring Bijapur, Bagalkot districts, as well as the border districts in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, who used to avail of inexpensive treatment at the PCC.

The center was started as a branch of the Kidwai institute here, thanks to  the vision of the legendary KMIO Director, the late Dr Krishna Bhargava in 1990, and with a donation of Rs 11 lakh from a philanthropist business family, the Sutratwes in memory of Tukaram Sutratwe. The death of the center was foretold with its outpatient department (OPD) closing down a year ago.

Namesake OPD

“We have OPD only for namesake for the last one year. The patients do come. We register their names and ask them to go to KMIO. If they are eligible, we will give them free pass to travel by train to Bangalore,’’ said Dr Vasant Harsur, pathologist and in-charge of the PCC, when contacted.

He  said he was awaiting a word as to whom the machinery and building should be handed over before leaving for Bangalore.

According to sources, the Kidwai institute started neglecting the PCC since 2005, resulting in its closure. The shutdown has saddened oncologists and radiologists at the centre who say that cancer was more rampant in the H-K districts than any time in the past. Their modest estimate of prevalence is about three per cent.

“This is the  time the cancer treatment facilities are badly required for poor people,” remarked a PCC staffer. Contacted on telephone, Dr Vijaykumar told Deccan Herald that the services at the PCC had to be closed due to non-availability of a radiation safety expert.

“Two years ago, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board made it mandatory to have a radiation safety officer in the radiotherapy unit. For one year, we ran the show seeking time. After that, we had to stop radiotherapy at the PCC for non-availability of radiation safety specialist,’’ Dr Vijaykumar said.

He insisted that it was technical problem and not shortage of funds that led to the closure.

He said the State government wanted to run the centre on public-private participation model and had called for an expression of interest. He insisted that the PCC staff had not been transferred en bloc, but had been given a transfer option.

The 50-bed PCC has excellent infrastructure, including radiotherapy, pathology, radio-diagnosis, nuclear medicine, pharmacy among others, all housed in a huge building with a built-up area of 45,000 sq ft.

In the 1990s, the PCC ran in-patient department effectively with sufficient bed occupancy. According to the latest official report, more than 700 new patients are registered every year with 4,500 patients, old and new, being followed-up every year.

The patient flow has been reduced due to the PCC becoming defunct over the last five years. Insiders say that in the last five years, no KMIO director has visited the PCC.

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