Vijayawada: An estimate of 58,072 people in Andhra Pradesh have had cancer in 2016 and nearly 30,000 people died due to some form of cancer in the same year. Despite the high incidence and mortality rate, there is not a single government hospital dedicated to treating cancer cases in AP.
While three government cancer hospitals were promised for Andhra in 2014 by the then health minister in Nellore, Kurnool and Vijayawada – none have materialised yet. Given this situation, it is learnt that the condition of cancer care units set up in government teaching hospitals in the state is not bright either.
While the Linear Accelerator machine is being used for radiation therapy everywhere in the world, including the majority of private hospitals in Andhra, the government hospitals are still using outdated cobalt-based machines for radiotherapy in Guntur, Kurnool, Visakhapatnam and Kakinada, according to official sources. These cobalt-based machines have been discarded from everywhere except in a few third world countries.
“There is a dire need for the establishment of a regional cancer hospital and research centre in the state, in the likes of MNJ Institute of Oncology Regional Cancer Centre of Hyderabad,” Dr MV Ramanamma, former Vice-Chancellor of NTR health university, Vijayawada and palliative care specialist said.
An institute where cancer treatment would be the pivotal point around which other departments are established to provide comprehensive treatment for free of cost would be a boon to the thousands of patients who shell out a fortune for the treatment at private hospitals, she added.
On the other hand, not a single post for Surgical Oncology or Medical Oncology has been established in the government hospitals across the AP since bifurcation. “Most of the posts are in Telangana and patients don’t have these essential services here. This also greatly affects the medical students, especially those studying Oncology as a speciality said a government doctor.