Tribune News Service
Bathinda, December 16
Cancer patients in the region have been suffering as an indefinite strike of the NHM Joint Front, Punjab, is going on for the past over one month now. With the work suspended, treatment of cancer patients visiting the NCD clinic situated on the premises of the Civil Hospital, Bathinda, is getting affected. Besides Bathinda, patients from other districts of south Malwa region and adjoining districts of Haryana and Rajasthan also visit the OPD and IPD sections of the NCD clinic for treatment.
Notably, under the Centre’s National Health Mission (NHM) programme, free treatment is provided at the NCD (non-communicable diseases) clinics established under the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) scheme.
As per the scheme, patients do not have to pay even for medicine here. Cancer patients get examined, get chemotherapies done, and are administered medicines and blood transfusion here. Two doctors, four staff nurses, two lab technicians, one counsellor and a clerical staff have suspended work. As a result, the NCD unit is lying non-functional for the past one month. The unit here provides treatment for diabetes and BP patients too. Started in 2011, the NCD unit here received an average of 25 to 40 patients at its OPD.
Gagandeep Kaur, attendant of Palwinder Kaur (65), a breast cancer patient from Jhumba village, said, “We got two cycles of chemotherapy done at the NCD clinic but after the strike, we had to go to a private hospital, which charged us exorbitantly for the chemotherapy, medicines and other treatment expenses. She is a stage-3 patient and since her condition had started improving, we cannot afford to discontinue her treatment at this juncture. She needs to undergo eight more chemotherapy sessions. We are from a humble family and cannot afford to bear the expensive treatment but will have to manage somehow.”
Amar Kaur, wife of Amandeep Singh, a 29-years-old cancer patient from Bareta in Mansa district, said, “We had been getting treatment at the NCD clinic for the past two years. But with the strike on, now we are forced to seek treatment elsewhere where we have to pay for medicines and other treatment charges.”
Sources said an Advanced Cancer Hospital is also located in Bathinda but patients who cannot afford to pay often opt for the NCD clinic.
Dr Tejwant Singh Dhillon, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, said, “Overall work has got affected due to the strike by staff members. We have asked the Advanced Cancer Institute authorities to provide treatment to cancer patients sent from the Civil Hospital.”
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