Despite help, Kashmir cancer patients suffer

Only 1 surgeon at lone tertiary care hospital

While Central Government is helping Jammu and Kashmir Government with liberal financial assistance to upgrade health care infrastructure,the situation in the Valley’s lone tertiary care hospital Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) is going from bad to worse.

As union health minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad announced Rs 37 crore for upgradation of infrastructure in the SKIMS on Thursday, sources said, at least 10 cancer patients have died at the hospital in the last six months as they weren’t operated in time due to lack of manpower and infrastructure in the hospital.

Azad who was here to take stock of the healthcare facilities in the state asserted that the centre would provide all possible financial assistance  to the state Government for modernising and upgradation of health care sector, adding that so far liberal financial assistance was given to the state.

However, despite that patients are suffering in the SKIMS due to “callous approach” of the SKIMS authorities.

Sources told Deccan Herald that a 19-year-old girl, Gudoo Shabnum (RCC No 2437/10) who was suffering from cancer on her right shoulder died a few months back as she wasn’t operated on time. “She needed a specialised treatment by a cancer surgeon which she did not get as the lone cancer surgeon at the SKIMS is overburdened with patients,” a source said.

Similar are cases of Reshi Hajra and Bhat Malla who died of stomach cancer while waiting for their turn to be operated.

Sources said Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister on 26 May 2011 had ordered the Director SKIMS to advertise all unfilled posts as sanctioned in 2008 and make appointments on fast track basis. However, only SKIMS administration knows why the posts haven’t been filled yet despite CM’s orders and alarming rate of cancer in Kashmir.

A senior cancer surgeon said Jammu & Kashmir is the only state lacking cancer treatment pathways, cancer registry and cancer surgery departments, despite the fact that cancer is like an epidemics here.

Reports said several patients and their attendants on Thursday apprised Azad about the problems in the hospital. They demanded additional beds in emergency ward, oncology ward and establishment of additional latest diagnostic equipments for the convenience of the patients.

Briefing media, Azad said the Union government has sanctioned Rs 37 crore upgradation of infrastructure and procurement of latest diagnostic equipments for the SKIMS. He also announced Rs six crore for further strengthening the existing department of oncology, cancer centre at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, here.

The minister said latest diagnostic equipment and required services have already been introduced in the centre for the treatment of patients suffering from fatal disease cancer. He said the government is also working for the establishment of another cancer centre for the facility of the cancer patients in the valley.

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