KP plans free cancer care
PESHAWAR, Aug 28: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has planned free treatment of cancer patients in the province under a new programme, say officials.
“The government has Rs500 million for free treatment of cancer patients in the province this year. The programme will receive the same amount of money every year,” an official told Dawn on Tuesday.
The move has been made in light of the success of another programme under which the government in collaboration with a pharmaceutical firm has been giving free treatment to patients at the oncology ward of Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC), Peshawar.
Until now, HMC has registered 600 patients for free treatment, according to an official.
“The cost of the eight-year programme is around Rs8 billion of which only 10 per cent has been paid by the government, while the rest is borne by the firm under a memorandum of understanding (MoU),” he said.
Dr Abid Jameel, who oversees the new free cancer treatment programme, told Dawn that the decision had been taken by the government in view of the increasing number of patients and their inability to afford the costly medicines.
“Currently, around 40,000 patients are being treated at four cancer centres in the province. Majority of them have breast, lung, stomach and mouth cancer whose treatment is expensive,” he said.
According to him, a meeting to finalise the programme will take place next week after which a committee will make the mechanism to implement the programme.
“We have designated four cancer treatment centres, including oncology ward at HMC and Institute of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine (Irnum) in Peshawar besides Ayub Teaching Hospital and Institute of Nuclear Medicines Oncology and Radiotherapy in Abbottabad for free treatment of patients.
These centres will be asked to apprise us of their medicine requirements in line with the number of patients. A committee will inspect them to see if medicines are given to patients free,” he said.
The official said under the new programme, the patients suffering from all kinds of cancers would get free treatment, but those who were in
stage four of any type of cancer wouldn’t get free treatment.
He added that on average, the cost of cancer treatment per patient was around Rs800,000 and the government could afford it.
“However, we can extend free treatment to a patient on his/her physicians even if they’re in stage four of cancer. If physician thinks that the treatment could prolong their lives by one year or more, then they will be given free treatment,” Dr Abid said.
He said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa registered 6,000 new cancer cases every year and the number was increasing due to lack of public awareness of causes of the deadly disease.
“Keeping in view this, we have also included public awareness campaigns in our programme. We’ll educate people on the causes of the common types of cancers so they could adopt preventive measures,” he said.
According to Dr Abid, more focus will be laid on early detection of cancer, especially among children. “Blood cancer among children is curable if the right doctor offers the right treatment at the right time,” he said.
He said hopefully, the programme would be in place after two months.
“After final approval to the programme likely next week, modalities will be finalised to form a committee and float tender for the purchase of medicines. Rules will be framed to ensure transparent purchase of medicines of good quality,” he said.