Bathinda, August 19
Fortytwo-year-old Jaswinder (name changed), a suspected breast cancer patient from Haryana, along with her daughter, are at the exit gate of the Advanced Cancer Institute-cum-Hospital in the city. She exhibited a ‘few’ early signs of breast cancer (most common among women) following which a doctor told her to undergo mammography test for proper diagnosis of the deadly disease.
Surprisingly, the machine for the mammography test is available at the hospital, but has been lying non-operational for years.
“At private labs, the test costs between Rs 2,500 and Rs 4,000. We cannot afford to bear this cost. We are returning and will visit the hospital after we have enough money for medical tests, medicines and other treatment expenses,” said Jaswinder’s daughter.
Like Jaswinder, scores of women return from the cancer hospital without any diagnosis. Moreover, ultrasound and OPG test (teeth and jaws) machines are also available at the cancer hospital, but are non-operational. There is no alternative for cancer patients except to go to private laboratories, which charge exorbitantly for medical tests.
Sources at the cancer hospital said machines for ultrasound, mammography and OPG tests were worth lakhs of rupees, but served no purpose as these had been lying non-operational for a long time now.
“It is the cancer patients who suffer. A majority of the patients, who visit the hospital, are from the rural belt of Malwa, Haryana and Rajasthan. They cannot afford to bear expenses of medical tests and medicines. So, they decide to stall their treatment, which certainly is a cause for concern as early diagnosis (Stage 1 and 2) of the disease is of paramount significance. Delayed diagnosis often becomes the reason for death of many patients, sources said.
“As a radiologist is not available at the hospital, ultrasound tests are not being conducted,” sources said.
“Despite the availability of medical equipment, the tests are not being conducted at the cancer hospital and the patients are forced to get these tests done at private labs, which are minting money. There is a sizable number of cancer patients who need to undergo PET scan which is not available here. So, the government must make provisions to install required machines and recruit staff,” the sources said.
Balwinder Singh, who accompanied a cancer patient from Mansa, said, “Since ultrasound test is not done at the hospital, we will now travel for 5 km to get the scan done at a private lab. If for these basic tests we have to go to private labs then we can imagine how and what kind of treatment we will receive here but we do not have the option to visit a private hospital for treatment as they charge exorbitantly.”
Dr Deepak Arora, Director Advanced Cancer Institute-cum-Hospital, said, “Ultrasound machine has been lying non-operational; there are very few radiologists working in the government sector but we have requested the higher authorities to appoint a radiologist at the hospital. We have machines for mammography and OPG tests but these are not functional as of now, but we are in the process to start conducting tests with these machines once required formalities get completed.”
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