Anantnag, Dec 3: Cancer has drained me of my financial resources. The non-availability of treatment in my home district has only stressed me out, says a cancer patient from south Kashmir's Anantnag district.
The patient after completing a series of chemotherapy sessions at Government Medical College (GMC) Anantnag, has to travel to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura (SKIMS) to receive the radiotherapy due to the non-availability of treatment at the facility.
“The travel, well-nigh daily, would plunge me into crushing debts,” said the patient with a doleful expression etched on his face.
The GMC Anantnag lacks radiation equipment like Telecobalt and Linear Accelerator (LINAC) machines, spurring hundreds of patients to seek treatment in Srinagar and other facilities outside Kashmir.
At least 1000 patients are presently registered with the facility with around 60 to 75 percent of them in need of radiotherapy.
“The lack of such equipment enhances the treatment cost of the patients as they have to visit the facility other than GMC, Anantnag,” said a doctor.
He said that apart from south Kashmir, GMC Anantnag receives the patients from Ramban, Banihal, Kishtwar, and Doda areas.
The Union Health Ministry's data indicate that J&K logged 51,577 cancer cases, comprising 12,396 in 2019, 12,726 in 2020, 13,060 in 2021, and 13,395 in 2022.
The data suggest that the highest number of cases were reported from Srinagar followed by Anantnag.
The Department of Oncology in GMC, Anantnag, was established with the inception of the facility in 2019.
However, the lack of adequate infrastructure is taking a toll on patient care.
The chemotherapy ward is operating from a makeshift space and lacks crucial facilities like a washroom and oxygen support.
“The ward is in bad shape and is quite unclean,” said a patient.
He said that the cancer patients had low immunity and could easily contract infection.
An attendant of a patient said that the lack of basic facilities in the ward could sometimes prove fatal for the patients undergoing the chemotherapy sessions.
“We have no other options but to receive the treatment in the facility,” said the attendant.
He said that doctors had advised the patient of radiotherapy too, necessitating a challenging journey to Srinagar.
Sources said that since the beginning of this year, at least 1200 chemotherapies were administered in the ward.