If you were to walk outside the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, you would see a serpentine queue of people, who mostly come from an underprivileged background, and have made the footpath their temporary home.
These are not homeless people, but the family members of cancer patients who have travelled from across the state and country, and wait for weeks outside the cancer hospital in a bid to help their ailing kith and kin get free treatment.
Did you know that over 11 lakh people in India are detected with cancer every year? As per the National Cancer Patient registration programme, the country records a whopping 28 lakh cancer patients including new and old cases each year.
As these numbers continue to soar, the Maharashtra government is moving one step forward to provide affordable treatment to its cancer population.
In a unique move, the state government has decided to set up free chemotherapy facilities in over ten districts, from June 2018.
These free facilities will be made available at district hospitals in Nagpur, Gadchiroli, Pune, Amravati, Jalgaon, Nashik, Wardha, Satara, Bhandara and Akola in the first phase reported the Times of India.
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The staff, including physicians and nurses, which is to administer this free treatment, will also undergo a three-week training course at the Tata Hospital in Mumbai in May.
Speaking about one of the prime reasons for setting up the facility, Deepak Sawant, Maharashtra Health Minister, said, “A six-week course is administered to patients in Tata Hospital, and for this, they have to come all the way to Mumbai every week. To reduce the problems faced by them in travelling to Mumbai, the health department will make the facility available at the district-level free of cost.”
These free chemotherapy facilities will be replicated in more districts once they are rolled out successfully in the ten selected districts from June.