Srinagar: Though the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura has finally started the much-awaited PET CT scan facility, the radioactive isotope used in the machine will have to arrive from New Delhi every day, making it a costly affair for patients.
As per officials, the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) CT scanner facility will be available for patients at Rs 14,500 per scan. The high cost is due to the radioactive isotope used in it having to travel daily from Delhi to Srinagar in absence of a manufacturing facility in J&K.
The PET CT scanner was inaugurated on Sunday by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on the death anniversary of her father, former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. The inauguration was done in a ceremony organised by the Electronics Communication and Technology department of the institute and was held at the SKIMS auditorium.
Also inaugurated were Digital Subtraction Angiography (DAS) Lab, Emergency (ward) Expansion, Out Patient Department Expansion, Maternity (ward) Extension, Board Room, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Equipment, and State Cancer Institute (SCI). All these were dedicated to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The PET CT scan machine has been installed at the Nuclear Medicine Department of SKIMS. Associated Professor at the department, Dr Tanveer Rather, said the machine will be a great help in cancer diagnosis and detection in J&K. However, the facility would come at a cost, as the radioactive material used in the machine has to come from a vendor in New Delhi, which supplied the machine to SKIMS Soura.
“It will help doctors to detect various threats at a micro level, to treat various diseases especially cancer,” he said.
“Each scan will cost Rs 14,500 for a patient at SKIMS. It would be a huge relief for patients who had to go outside J&K for such scans. It may not be affordable for the poor but they can be benefited through different welfare schemes,” Dr Rather said.
Sources said that SKIMS Soura had acquired the PET CT scan machine from an Indian supplier of American multinational General Electric. The machine has been purchased at an approximate cost of Rs 12-13 crore, sources said.
“It is a very costly and sensitive machine. It requires special enclosures inside the hospital. The machine will need good-quality annual maintenance to increase its work life,” sources at SKIMS said.
“It took the institute nearly four years to start the facility, due to bureaucratic hassles and the withdrawal of a private investor from a Public Private Partnership,” a senior doctor told Kashmir Reader.
He said the regulatory authority for radiation safety in India, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), gave its approval for the machine in 2016. However, the institute authorities delayed the tendering process.
“It was after the chief minister intervened, following several news reports, that the machine could be installed,” said the doctor.
Dr Rather said the same vendor that supplied the machine will supply the isotope, at a cost of Rs 1 lakh per consignment per day, which will benefit nearly 10 patients.
“The institute doesn’t have a manufacturing facility because it is a huge investment, which is not feasible as of now. But we will review the rate of each scan after some months after considering various factors,” Dr Rather said.
“The PET imaging requires a compact particle accelerator used to produce small quantities of radioactive isotopes. The information generated from PET CT scans enable us to make better diagnosis and follow-up plans for cancer patients,” said an oncologist at SKIMS.
He said the information is critical in making decisions regarding surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
“It will also reveal the presence and stage of the cancer,” the doctor said.
Cancer has shown an alarming rise in Jammu & Kashmir. Data released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) shows that 16,480 patients with malignancies have been registered between January 2017 and August 2017 in the state. The latest figures, according to ICMR’s Cancer Registry, were presented by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the Rajya Sabha.