By Dr. Suhail Naik
As soon as local Doctor’s of Kashmir break news that a patient is suffering from some type of cancer, the next immediate step resourceful Kashmir’s take is that they book airline tickets right outside the doctor’s office, using Make My trip application without asking doctor who has actually diagnosed the ailment that what further treatment measures are possible for the said aliment. And, as soon as they land in to a metro city Corporate hospital, the first response from the hospital authorities is to reject and disregard all medical tests done in Valley. Then, a battery of tests are recommended and the testing process is started immediately to satisfy patients anxiety as well as pecuniary gains of Corporate hospital.
After concluding a battery of tests, the patient is usually informed that he/she has the same ailment that has been diagnosed by the Valley Doctors. But, till then payment bill has already crossed the mark of lakhs of rupees. After this, the patient is advised to go for a surgical procedure which is usually one of the common types and the first strategy to treat solid tumours. Next day, the payment bill touches more than ten lakhs and attendants are asked to pay the bill immediately. The very next moment, the resourceful Kashmiri in contention turns in to a below poverty line socioeconomic category and that is also palpable to administration of corporate hospital. Then, the hospital administration soberly advises them that SKIMS, Soura is one of the best hospitals and that the patient can be treated in his/her own hometown with internationally accepted protocols. After that, as soon as the bill of hospital is cleared by attendants, a treatment protocol is usually handed over to patient to complete that in the Valley at the SKIMS. Finally, the family of patient seeks help from the Cancer Society of Kashmir.
Keeping this all this in view, it is amply clear that Kashmir Valley is in dire need of separate State of the Art Cancer Hospital. That is , a Cancer Hospital with a state of art infrastructure, gadgetry and human resources and all the diagnostics including a PET scan and therapeutics. The Hospital should have refined onco-surgeon’s, determined oncologist’s, astute radiotherapists , infection disease specialists, and Radiological interventionists. This becomes important and exigent given the increasing prevalence and incidence of Cancers in the Valley
It is true and a fact that innocent Kashmir’s fall in to trap of Corporate hospitals and their hawks are roaming everywhere nowadays, but successful governments in the State have done nothing till date to upgrade or develop state of the art Cancer treatment facilities in terms of infrastructure and equipment. There is a proposed Cancer Hospital in district Kupwara, but , till date , no concrete measures have been taken by the government towards its construction.
Furthermore, who will go to that cancer hospital, as Kupwara is topographically a border area, and; it is far away from the Summer capital and South Kashmir.
It is also an established fact that the concerned doctors at SKIMS institution treating cancer patients are doing a tremendous job in staging and treating the cancer patients but there is space crunch, shortage of beds, lack of modern equipment and human resources. It is also obvious that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has miserably failed in upgrading the proposed five district Hospitals in to medical colleges announced by former Central Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad. It is pertinent to note here that many other states have already upgraded their district hospitals in to medical colleges.
Given the state’s obvious failures, it is now the moral responsibility of the Cancer Society Kashmir, and the Doctor’s Association Kashmir to look in to the matter seriously and work for the construction of a State of Art Cancer Hospital on no profit , no loss basis. If the people of Valley can run hundreds of Darul Ulooms, Yateem Trusts whole heartedly, why can’t we build and operate one single Cancer institution for the people of Kashmir and by the people of Kashmir?
Meanwhile, people from different sections of society are asking a direct question to the Waqf Board administration (with crores of income) that why they have miserably failed in developing infrastructure for such a hospital? By way of a parallel example, the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has planned, constructed, and is operating many educational institutions as well as famous the Mata Vaishno Devi Tertiary Care Super Specialty Hospital at Katra , Jammu- famous for its state of art infrastructure and facilities.
Keeping and maintaining a ward for cancer patients at SKIMS , Soura, does not mean that everything is updated in the Institute. Furthermore, due to ever increasing number of cancer patients in the Valley, the patients in SKIMS get date for investigations and therapeutic intervention months apart. Getting date for investigations in SKIMS is akin to getting a date in a civil court. Now, the million dollar question is what a common Kashmiri will do? Unless and until, the issue is not taken seriously by different civil societies, Waqf board, Doctors Association Kashmir, Cancer free Kashmir, Help Poor, and so son, the poor Kashmiri is bound to sell his property and try his best to save the precious life of his /her near and dear ones.
—The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org