Cancer Alarm: 40 Patients Admitted Per Day at SKIMS

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SRINAGAR:  Cases of breast, lung and stomch cancers are rising at an alarming rate in the Kashmir valley.

According to data available on an average 40 cancer patients are received at the Sheri-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) per day where only four oncology doctors are available.

According to recent studies, Kashmir Valley has witnessed a sharp spurt in the number of cancer cases over the years. The most dreadful cancers are breast, lung and stomach cancers which have witnessed an increase among the people of the State from the last 10 years according to Department of Oncology SKIMS.

This is as alarming as can be. If a ratio proportion analysis is conducted here, 40 patients per day at SKIMS means that there must be scores of other patients who go to other hospitals or who remain undiagnosed till the last stages of  their carcinomas. And, in terms of SKIMS oncological facilities and infrastructure-both soft and hard-much is left to be desired.

The poor patients yearn for better healthcare facilities and resources.

These patients wait for long hours to see the doctor and ironically the hospital is short of vital drugs and chemo therapy radiation- which is one treatment procedure to kill the cancerous cells- is  also running short.

Tahira Showkat, a young woman from Bijbehara in early 30’s is in extreme trauma as his husband Showkat Ahmad was diagnosed with tumor in brain last week at SKIMS.

“I don’t know why it happened with my husband. When the doctor told us that he has a tumor; everything fell apart for me. I have a three year old son who keeps asking  me, “what has happened to Abuji?”. At that time I feel like something  is piercing my heart agonizing ferocity”.

“We brought him to this hospital and we have been  here almost for three days but there is no proper treatment given to the patient. Only once in the morning doctor comes and looks at the patient, then there is no one who looks after the patient. I will sell my belongings but I want to save my husband at any cost,” she said adding her father- in-law has decided to take him (Showkat) to Chandigarh for better treatment.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines,  three cancer patients should be looked after by an expert medical oncologist on duty if the patient is admitted in hospital for treatment while  24 hour supervision must be maintained by the paramedical staff.

But the treatment meted out to the patients in main hospitals here is not up to the mark as most of the patients are dying for want of medicines and life saving equipment, not to talk of expert medical help.

According to medical experts,   if there is no proper diagnosis  carried out  at the first stage and patient gets to know about his or her disease in later or last stages, this constitutes criminal negligence. Secondly, there is no high end advanced treatment for these patients available in State run hospitals.

 “There is no basic facility available as even small things that we need, we have to buy it from outside. This is sheer negligence on part of government and administration, “said Rouf Ahmed, whose grandfather Abdul Gaffar suffering from lung cancer has been admitted in the hospital since the last four days.

 “The disease not only affects the patient but also his family which leads to psychological pressure and isolation. The need is to make these patients feel happy and main responsibility lies on doctor and his family as they are only source of hope for these kinds of patients, “said Dr. Rashid Bhat, a Psychological expert practicing in Gulf Region.

Director of SKIMS, Dr. Showkat Zargar said, “I admit there are some discrepancies on part of life saving equipments and vital drugs but we are trying our level best to give the best treatment to the patients who are suffering from  this dreadful disease. The influx of these patients has drastically increased from the last five years. At this hospital more than 4000 patients are registered every year which is quite a huge number of patients. Since the past  three years, there have been tremendous research advancements which have benefited these patients a lot and our team of doctors is leaving no stone unturned to save the life of these patients.”

 “I have already written to higher authorities for assisting us in having life saving equipment and vital medicines on time for which they given assurance that timely all these pending demands will be fulfilled so that patients won’t suffer at large,” he  further added.

While the reassurances by some medicos and the director are well and fine, what is alarming is the rising incidence of cancer in Kashmir. The post diagnostic care is wanting and inadequate but what should concentrate the minds of authorities is pre-emptive care. Admittedly, sometimes the causes of cancer can be obscure but it is well known that there are certain practices and indulgences that are carcinogenic. The authorities should , given the increasing rate of cancer in Kashmir synthesize pre and post diagnostic care and make people aware. The follow up should be in the nature of improved facilities and infrastructure to deal with the disease and ease the sufferings of people.

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