The government has taken an initiative to set up specialized cancer hospitals in eight divisional cities of the country.
A 14-storey specialized hospital dedicated to cancer, kidney and heart patients will be established in the Kurmitola Hospital compound in Dhaka, while 17-storey cancer hospitals will be established at medical college hospitals in Chittagong, Mymensingh, Barisal, Khulna, Rangpur, Rajshahi and Sylhet, according to the details of the project.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will lay the foundation stones for the cancer hospitals virtually from Ganabhaban on Sunday morning. The Tk2,500 project was approved in July 2019, but it made little progress in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an official close to the project.
The project will proceed at pace once it is inaugurated as it is the brainchild of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the official added.
A top official of the Health Ministry said the project was currently named the Establishment of 100-bed Full-fledged Cancer Centre at Government Medical College Hospital in Divisional City. However, the government has increased the number of beds due to an increasing number of cancer patients in the country. Each hospital will have 120 general beds, 14 cabin beds, and 6 post-operative beds for cancer patients. 40 beds will be allocated for cancer patients who need intensive treatment, such as chemotherapy.
The sections of the hospitals for kidney patients will include 70 beds for patients who need dialysis, 74 general beds, 14 cabins, four ICU beds, and three post-operative beds.
The model of the proposed 14-storey hospital Courtesy
For heart-related patients, these hospitals will include 12 CCU beds, eight ICU beds, 12 HDU beds, 26 PCCU beds, 15 general beds and 10 beds for post-Cath lab patients. For children, the hospitals will have 14 general beds, eight ICU beds and 10 post-Cath lab beds.
When contacted, a joint secretary of the Health Ministry told this newspaper: “Such specialized hospitals for cancer, kidney and heart patients will be a milestone in our health sector. This initiative will help thousands of people around the country who have to travel to Dhaka or abroad regularly for certain treatments.”
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization (WHO), 156,775 new cancer patients were detected and 108,990 died from the disease in Bangladesh in 2020. In 2018, 150,781 cancer cases were detected in Bangladesh and 108,137 people died, according to WHO.
However, Dr Habibullah Talukder Raskin, chief of the epistemology department at the National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital, on Friday told Dhaka Tribune: “We do not have any national cancer registry; that’s why we have data on only one-third of the estimated cancer patients in our hands. I think two-thirds of patients are unregistered, as they used to go abroad for treatment or took local homoeopathy and Ayurveda medicine.”
Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and India are some of the countries that affluent patients go to for treatment.
Dr Raskin said: “Eight specialized hospitals in eight divisions is a big project, but many initiatives need to be introduced in these hospitals to treat cancer patients. Research and community awareness is needed to prevent cancer at the early stage.”
The number of cancer patients has been increasing in the country for various reasons, including food adulteration, environmental pollution, smoking and genetic problems.