Doctors from Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) on Sunday launched a new web-based service, ‘Virtual Tumour Board’ (VTB), in which various cancer specialists, practising across India, can connect online to discuss a particular case.
The VTB was launched in the presence of the Union minister of health and family welfare, JP Nadda, on the last day of the three-day long conference organised by the Tata Memorial Centre to commemorate its 75th anniversary. The meet was organised at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research to discuss the issue of universal health coverage.
The VTB is the brainchild of doctors at TMH who realised the need for having comprehensive analysis of complex cancer cases by a team of specialists, as opposed to just one.
“Data available suggests that when a multi-disciplinary team takes decisions on a particular cancer case, the survival rate and the outcome of treatment is better as compared to treatment decided by just one doctor,” said Dr CS Pramesh, head of the department of surgical oncology, TMH.
After the specialists finish discussing a case on the VTB, a summary of comments made by them is collated and sent to the doctor treating the patient. The VTB is a part of the National Cancer Grid (NCG) that was started five years ago to link cancer centres across India. The NCG is funded by the centre through the department of atomic energy to provide uniform standards of care to cancer patients.
“The VTB is a good step forward for India and I am convinced it will help us improve early screening, ensure right kind of treatment is given at the right time and boost the sharing of knowledge between experts. I congratulate Tata Memorial Centre for this initiative,” said Nadda
Based on the discussions held at the conference, doctors issued a list of recommendations to the centre,Mumbai Declaration, to ensure universal and affordable health coverage.
“There is a lot of hidden cost in healthcare, which is almost equivalent to the cost of treatment. We must get rid of it,” said Dr Rajendra Badwe, director, TMH.
In the recommendations made, doctors have strongly urged to increase healthcare budget from 1.4% to 3%.
“I pledge my support and commitment to this initiative and declare that the ministry will implement, in letter and in spirit, every suggestion of the Mumbai Declaration,” Nadda said.
•Increase central government allocation of funds to healthcare, from 1.4% to 3% of GDP, along with a commensurate increase in the states’ contribution
•Offer easy access to palliative care
•Increase the number of qualified doctors, nurses, paramedical workers, and technicians by expanding medical and paramedical educational infrastructure.