Overlooking the National Programme for Control of Cancer, Diabetics and Cardiovascular Strokes (NPCDCS), the state government that had recently announced its 'Cashless treatment scheme' for cancer patients has failed to provide medicines at the NPCDCS counter in Bathinda.
The NPCDCS clinics, which lack medicines for radiotherapy facilities, were not empanelled under the cashless treatment scheme of the state government. In Bathinda, private Max Hospital has been empanelled under the scheme for cancer patients.
The NPCDCS centres that are being run on 75:25 basis by the Centre and state governments, respectively, were supposed to provide with free medicines to patients who are under treatment for all non-communicable diseases, including cancer.
There is no medicine available at NPCDCS, Bathinda, for chemotherapy of cancer patients and they have to purchase medicines on their own either from Jan Aushadhi centres or other medical stores.
Since its inception in 2012 the NPCDCS centre had treated 1,025 cancer patients, out of which 50% had undergone chemotherapy by spending from their own pocket.
Oncologist at NPCDCS centre Dr Vandana said, "15 drugs are available but another 15 drugs that are required haven't come yet. There is no free medicine available for cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. A patient had to go through six cycles of chemotherapy and had to spend more than Rs. 3,000 on medicines every cycle. Three patients undergo chemotherapy daily. Out of the total patients that have been treated till now around 50% purchased medicines for chemotherapy on their own."
Mukhtiar Singh (66) from Bhai Rupa village of Bathinda who wants treatment for his wife Jarnail Kaur who is suffering from cancer at NCDPCS clinic in the civil hospital said, "I was denied benefit by the Bathinda deputy commissioner under the state's cancer scheme. The authorities claimed that my wife couldn't be treated under the scheme as I have retired from post of postman. Our expenses on treatment had crossed Rs. 1.25 lakh and we have no other source of income apart from my pension of Rs. 10,000. We had to purchase medicines from outside that are too costly."
Bathinda civil surgeon Dr SK Sanhi when asked about the lack of free medicines at the centre said, "We don't need to give any free medicines to patients as the hospital is not empanelled for the cashless scheme. Patients are being offered cashless scheme and drugs are available at Jan Aushadhi centres."