Hospitals nearer home, no more rush on 'cancer train' : The Tribune India

Hospitals nearer home, no more rush on 'cancer train'

About 100 patients travelled to Bikaner daily for treatment 6 years ago | Now, number down to 15-25

Hospitals nearer home, no more rush on 'cancer train'

Patients travel by the ‘cancer train’ free of cost. Tribune Photo

Tribune News Service

Sameer Singh

Bathinda, September 19

The Abohar-Jodhpur Express, infamously dubbed as the “cancer train”, may soon shed its tag because the number of cancer patients travelling from Malwa to Bikaner, Rajasthan, for treatment has nosedived over the past few years.

Reason: several cancer hospitals, both government and private, have come up in the region.

To name a few, the Advanced Cancer Institute-cum-Hospital, Bathinda; Government Medical College and Hospital, Faridkot; All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bathinda; and Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Sangrur, are catering to cancer patients.

Around six years ago, 80 to 100 cancer patients travelled by the Abohar-Jodhpur Express for Acharya Tulsi Regional Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Bikaner, every day. The number has now come down to 15 to 25 patients.

Sukhpal Singh, who works for NGOs Sukh Sewa Society and the World Cancer Care Charitable Society, said: “Around five years ago, more than 100 patients travelled by the ‘cancer train’ daily. We used to distribute 250 to 300 packets of food among patients and members of their families. Now, we distribute not more than 70 packets. On some days, about 20 to 25 patients are aboard the train and there are days, when there are only 10.”

The price for a one-way ticket is Rs 210, but cancer patients have the facility to travel free of cost.

“Six years ago, there was hardly any well-equipped government cancer hospital in the region and treatment cost in private ones was high. So, patients, mostly from rural areas, preferred visiting the Bikaner hospital. The treatment was cheaper there… Why travel 650 km (to and fro from Bikaner) when the treatment is available nearer home now?” said the NGO volunteer.

A senior railway official said, “After the chemotherapy, traversing a long distance back home in extreme weather conditions is difficult for patients. Earlier, they did not have a choice. Now, several health facilities have come up near their home. In the past seven years, there has been a fall of 85 per cent in the occupancy by cancer patients.”

Health facilities in Malwa have seen an influx of patients. For example, 82,000 patients availed of treatment at the Advanced Cancer Institute-cum-Hospital in Bathinda last year.

#abohar #Malwa #Sangrur

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