An Indian healthcare enterprise plans to construct a cancer care centre in Ethiopia at a cost of over $30 million.
Dinesh Madhavan, marketing director of HealthCare Global Enterprises (HCG), an Asian cancer care network which is headquartered in India's Bangalore city, said the construction of the centre will help cancer patients in Ethiopia to get better treatment.
Madhavan said the enterprise will train and educate doctors, nurses and paramedical staff in the latest advances in treatment and management of cancer. HCG focuses exclusively on cancer in India.
HCG's vision is to make high quality cancer care accessible by adopting global innovations to all segments of the society, he said.
An agreement was reached between HCG and the African Union to start cancer care treatment through video conferencing in all member states two years ago, said Madhavan who added that the enterprise has started providing cancer care through videoconferencing in the Black Lion Specialized Hospital in Ethiopia.
Not just in healthcare, India is a leading private sector investor in Ethiopia with investments of $4.35 billion. Over 450 Indian companies are currently operating in Ethiopia.
Indian investors are now being engaged in various sectors, from flower market and agriculture sectors they have moved to manufacturing, agro processing, information technology (IT) and other sectors.
Sridhar P.S., an Indian doctor from HCG who is on a mission to help treat cancer patients in the country, said that Ethiopia has a huge number of breast cancer patients.
"We are here to treat cancer patients with new technology that can scan the entire body. We can detect cancer in its early stages which increases the chance for a cure," Sridhar said.
Sridhar, who is on his second visit to Ethiopia, told IANS: "The reason we came here is that cancer patients should not go from place to place for treatment unless special medication is required. Cancer is very painful. Traveling abroad for people traumatised by cancer is a double burden. It is good if the specialist comes to them."
"Brain tumors and prostate cancer in men above the age of 55 and uterus cervical cancers in women are common in Ethiopia. The cure is possible if identified in the early stage. For this we need to educate the people to get checked time and again," he added.
Cervical cancer ranks as the most common cancer among women in East Africa. It also causes a higher mortality rate in the region.
Explaining how HCG treats people regardless of their ability to pay, Sridhar said: "In India we don't let people go back untreated if they don't have the money. Primarily all patients are patients regardless of their income. They must get the treatment at any cost. There is the credit system in which people pay in an installment basis. So we have to establish that kind of arrangement for patients."
HCG's vision here is to provide use of new technologies like installing radiation treatment and establishing Intensity Modulated Radio Therapy (AMRT). With targeted treatment, radiation and targeted therapy, it is possible to make cancer a controllable disease.
WHO figures indicates that cancer causes about 12.5 percent of all deaths worldwide, this is more than the productive life lost from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. New cases are expected to double within the next 20 years.
Sridhar says cancer can be tackled in Africa. The establishments of cancer centres provide affordable treatment and follow up will help alleviate the problem.
The doctor's advice: Please get screened for cancer now. If something is detected, it is better to find it in the early age rather than later.