Gulbarga cancer centre on its death bed

A severe blow to poor patients in H-K region

This has not only compounded the miseries of thousands of poor patients of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, but also rendered useless the 22-year-old, 50-bed Vitthalrao Tukaram Sutrawe Memorial Peripheral Cancer Centre that has a huge infrastructure, including radiation and nuclear medicine facilities.

After a report appeared in the Deccan Herald in June last about the KMIO director arbitrarily transferring all the staff from the PCC to KMIO Bangalore, the order was reversed and 17 employees were transferred back to Gulbarga. It had revived hopes for the cancer facility that had remained closed for two years, but the KMIO is not keen on reopening the centre.

PPP model
The KMIO director had stated that the staff had to be transferred to Bangalore as the government had decided to run the PCC on a public-private participation model.

 “If it is really so, why did the director send the 17 staffers back to Gulbarga,’’ asks social activist Arunkumar Patil, who plans an agitation over the issue. The 17 staffers are drawing their salaries despite the fact that they have no work to do in the absence of the critical clinical staff.

Unkept promise
Major and Medium Irrigation Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who till recently was the district in-charge minister, had taken up the matter with Medical Education Minister S A Ramdas and higher officials. He had promised to reopen the treatment facility shortly. But sources say the KMIO has refused to revive its branch, which was established by the visionary Dr Krishna Bhargava, the then KMIO director in the late 1980s.

There are many ways to reopen the unit, if the KMIO is committed to it, according to the sources. They maintained that the KMIO management had been blatantly following discriminatory policies, discouraging critical clinical staff to work here.

The unit can be reopened by posting a radio therapist, radio safety officer, medical physicist and a pathologist. The radio therapist appointed to the PCC is presently serving in Bangalore. The medical physicist earlier working here had to take voluntary retirement two years ago because of acute disparity in salary. Now, he has written to the authorities expressing his willingness to work in Gulbarga if he was paid salary on a par with a doctor working in Bangalore.

There is also another way to revive the PCC by simply attaching it to Bidar Institute of Medical Sciences.

Revival the only solution
The sources pointed out that another PCC, started along with the one at Gulbarga in Mandya, was also facing similar problems. But it has been fully revived after being attached to the Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences.

With the KMIO hell-bent on closing the PCC, and the political leadership of the H-K region failing to resist the move, the cancer facility may soon breathe its last, putting at grave risk thousands of poor cancer patients — 70 per cent of whom are women.

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