SRINAGAR: Kashmir health authorities have not been scientifically documenting the number of cancer and diabetes patients treated at various government institutions, which makes mounting effective strategies for planning, treatment and research extremely difficult.
Head of Department Endocrinology at SKIMS hospital, Dr Bashir Laway told Kashmir Reader that the comprehensive survey can provide a wide canvas of disease prevalence which will be used for better research and therefore better treatment.
“Since a comprehensive survey has not been carried out it is not possible to have a wide canvas of disease prevalence. Neither is better research possible. We cannot precisely figure out co-morbidity and mortality rates, for example,” said head department of endocrinology at SKIMS Dr Bashir Laway.
Comorbidity is the presence of one or more additional diseases or disorders co-occurring with a primary disease or disorder.
At present, Dr Bashir said, information about diabetes is based on two surveys—one carried out 15 years ago and another 10 years ago.
“The first study showed 8 per cent persons above 40 years of age were having diabetes. The second was carried out in persons in the 20-40 year age group. No study has been carried out since,” Dr Bashir said.
A proposal calling for a fresh survey has been submitted to SKIMS authorities by Dr Bashir. It has not been Okayed yet.
His counterpart at the Government Medical College Srinagar, Dr Shahnawaz, told Kashmir Reader that the department has not carried out any study of its own and has been banking on the decade-old SKIMS survey.
A leading endocrinologist, wishing anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media, told Kashmir Reader that the incidence of diabetes is increasing in the valley.
“Diabetes is caused by many factors like lifestyle, food, stress. How a person becomes diabetic is difficult to show at present,” he said.
According to data available with the SMHS and SKIMS hospitals, the two institutions where cancer patients are treated, there are 4,500 cancer patients in the valley, which has a population of 70 lakh.
Dr Manzoor, senior oncologist at the SMHS hospital, said the figures “cannot be relied upon” in the absence of scientific methods of data compilation.
“Take for example the patients who are being referred to SKIMS from SMHS for therapies. Such patients are being at SMHS also. So we have a cancer case registered at two places. This leads to duplication,” he said.
Dr Sanauallah Kuchay, head department of Radiation Oncology at the Govt Medical College Srinagar, said, “Currently it is very difficult to say with certainty to what extent cancer has made inroads in our society.”
However, Dr Kuchay said, the SKIMS has now started population-based registration now, which will provide a clearer picture and also prevent registration of cancer patients at two or more institutions.
When Kashmir Reader inquired about the status of the population-based survey at the SKIMS, it was learnt that it is awaiting clearance from Indian health ministry.
The survey, which is part of a project funded by the Indian government, was aimed at creating a uniform database of cancer patients in the valley.
Head of the Regional Cancer Centre at SKIMS Dr Maqbool Lone told Kashmir Reader, “We have submitted all the formalities regarding the project before the Indian government. Now we are waiting to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with them which is very important. Unless the MoU is signed we don’t have funding which is the key. The project is huge and will be run by nine employees who will be engaged on temporary basis,” Dr Maqbool told Kashmir Reader.