To make treatment available for cancer patients, the government has decided to establish cancer hospitals in each of the country’s divisional cities.
The 100-bed hospitals will be constructed in a bid to decentralise treatment facilities for the poor in particular.
The disclosure came from State minister for Health and Family Welfare Zahid Maleque while talking to Bangladesh Post on Monday.
He said the government has undertaken such initiative as the existing cancer treatment in the country is not satisfactory. “The matter has already been discussed with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the premier assured of all logistic supports to implement construction of the cancer hospitals so that people can avail their adequate treatment facilities from divisional cities”, said the state minister.
There is only one bed allocated against every 3,000-cancer patients which is inadequate, he informed.
The cancer patient can survive for a long time, but the treatment is expensive and lengthy, he said adding that some 4 percent of the people affected with the cancer disease go down to the poverty line.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including heart and diabetics, are increasing in the country and some 60 percent of the deaths are occurring for NCDs in which cancer is holding second place.
“Truly speaking, the status of cancer treatment is poor in our country; as a result, we are sincerely trying to change the situation. Although the people have minimum accessibility of cancer treatment but the existing treatment facilities are basically based on Dhaka. We need at least 5,000 beds for cancer treatment in our country, but there are only 500 beds available and 300 of them are at National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital (NICRH) in Dhaka and 200 at other government and private hospitals” he said.
Only solvent patients can avail early diagnosis of cancer but the people of low economic section have no access to diagnosis though early diagnosis and prompt treatment can cure one-third of the cancer patients, the minister pointed out.
Apart from this, cancer treatment facilities are needed at upazila-and district-level hospitals and the government will ensure it gradually, he assured.
National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital Associate Professor Johirul Islam said there is no data on cancer patients in the country.
He said an estimated 200,000 cancer patients are added every year and only 50,000 can afford treatment.
He urged the government to make data not only for cancer patients but NCDs for ensuring better cancer treatment in the country.
Bangladesh should have at least 160 radiotherapy centres considering its population, said Mofizur Rahman, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at the National Institute of ENT (Ear Nose Throat).
At present, the country has only 16 radiotherapy centres — nine government hospitals, six private hospitals and one Combined Military Hospital, he mentioned.
Prof Dr Moniruzzaman Khan, president of Mission Cancer Bangladesh, said cancer is a complicated disease, but it is curable if it is detected at early stage.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Vice-Chancellor Prof Kanak Kanti Barua said approximately 12 to 15 lakh people have been suffering from cancer.
Radiotherapy or radiation therapy is part of cancer treatment to control or kill malignant cells.
He urged poor cancer patients to take the opportunity for free treatment at BSMMU as cancer treatment is very expensive.
Commenting on the government initiative to establish 8 cancer hospitals in divisional cities, he said it is a good initiative of the government because many poor cancer patients fail to get adequate treatment facilities in the country.