Goa will soon have its own Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) at the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH). The RCC would help thousands of cancer patients who have to travel to other states for complete treatment or go to private hospitals for expensive chemotherapy. Though the proposal and money (Rs 45 crore) for setting up the centre was approved by the central government four years ago, the state health department mysteriously failed to take advantage of it. It was only after Health Minister Vishwajit Rane called for the status that the file missing for years was located. It is surprising that an important file could go missing from the state secretariat. Was it a case of bureaucratic sloth or disappearance by deliberate design? Now that the proposal is going to be implemented with the signing of an MoU, the work on setting up of the RCC should be set in motion. Setting up such a centre would help government save crore of rupees, which are spent on funding treatment in private hospitals under medi-claim scheme. The nearest Regional Cancer Centres are located at Mumbai and Bangalore. While the Goans would be benefitted by the cancer centre, people from neighbouring states of Karnataka and Maharashtra living in the immediate neighbourhood would also be eligible for the benefit from the centre as per the existing arrangements.
The state health authorities need to ensure that all the approvals from competent authorities are obtained prior to beginning of the construction of special infrastructure needed to house the cancer treatment and research facility. It is mandatory for every state to obtain clearance from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre under the department of atomic energy before beginning the work as the infrastructure has to be set up in according with its standards and the plans would have to be sent to the premier atomic energy institution of the country for its nod. The country’s premier cancer hospital, Tata Memorial Hospital is a grant-in aid institution under the department of atomic energy.
It is not that the state is bereft of cancer treatment facilities but it surely is lacking in specialized treatment. A research facility could help in finding a definite treatment for the disease. Given the fact nearly 4,000 cancer cases were detected in the state year after year over the last half decade and with the numbers rising, a dedicated cancer treatment centre would be advantageous for the people suffering from the dreaded disease. According to the statistics compiled by the central authorities, Goa is in the high range of breast, stomach and tongue cancer in the country, while it is in the moderate range as far as cervical cancer is concerned. As per the statistics nearly 600 people die of cancer in the state every year. A specialised treatment centre in the state could help cure or at least prolong the lives of some of the people with cancer. Besides, families of the cancer patients would be able to save a lot of funds that they otherwise have to incur on travelling and staying in rented places outside the state.
Funds from the central and state governments could help in early construction of the infrastructure needed to set up the cancer centre. The state authorities need to begin the hunt for manning the posts of specialists in cancer care. The GMCH has not be able to recruit a radio therapist for quite some time as the persons appointed earlier left for greener pastures elsewhere. The post of radio therapist is highly essential in treating cancer cases. It would be an exercise in futility in case the state is unable to find experts in the field of cancer treatment. As the recruitment process takes a long time the hunt for good doctors in cancer care should start forthwith and the candidates selected should be initially deployed in the existing facilities till the new infrastructure comes up. The government could consider giving the cancer specialists a special pay package on the lines of those in the cardiovascular and cardiology department to attract best hands. Given the fact that certain officials in the health department failed to take advantage of the central government’s proposal and money for setting up a cancer centre in the state and allowed the proposal to lie in cold storage for years together, the government should make a departmental inquiry and replace the officials found guilty of allowing the file to go missing with officers with zeal and dedication in setting up the RCC to ensure that no further delay is caused and it is set up at the earliest.