Blame it on ignorance of cancer patients or lack of awareness campaigns, the much-hyped Chief Minister Cancer Relief Fund Scheme seems to be losing its sheen in the district. Started in the year 2010 with the motive of providing better treatment facilities, the number of cancer patients registered under the scheme for financial aid has been decreasing every year.
According to information, 299 cancer patients were registered in 2010, while in 2011 only 133 cancer patients were provided funds for treatment. This year, only 71 patients have been registered under the scheme with the district health department so far.
Under the scheme, the government has signed an agreement with the government medical colleges and hospitals and many private institutes and provided financial grant up to Rs 1.5 lakh directly to hospital managements for treatment of cancer patients.
Though the health department has no official record of the total number of cancer patients in the district, the maximum number of cancer patients has been found in villages situated mainly in Moonak, Lehragaga, Sunam and Malerkotla sub divisions.
A random survey of villages in Malerkotla sub division, including Sherpur, Kokaral, Pedni, Kila Batuha, Ghanaur Kheri, Mehmadpur, Zila Hakima and Pedni Kalan, revealed that 10 to 15 people have been diagnosed with different types of cancer diseases in each of these villages. However, between 2010 and 2012, only 69 cases have been registered under the scheme from Malerkotla sub division.
While talking to villagers, it came to fore that people were not aware about the scheme and did not even know how to approach the concerned authorities for the financial aid. "Is layi form kitthon milde han (where will we get forms). We have heard about the scheme, but don't know much about it," said Balkar Singh of Pedni Kalan village. "The authorities should approach cancer patients so that they can benefit from the scheme," he said.
Another cancer patient Parminder Kaur said there were no proper diagnostic laboratory in Sangrur and no hospital was covered under the scheme, therefore, they had to either go to Ludhiana or Patiala for treatment.
In Moonak sub division, the area where maximum cancer deaths have been reported in the past many years, only 61 cancer patients were registered in 2010 and the figure came down to seven in 2011 and four in 2012.
It was also learnt that many cancer patients and their families deliberately did not register under the scheme. "Once our names are registered with the government, it would be very easy for anyone to go through our personal details. This could create problems at the times of marriage of our children," said a cancer patient seeking anonymity.
Civil Surgeon Dr HS Bali said awareness camps were organised from time to time. "It is a part of the national cancer scheme and all workers working at different villages were instructed to carry out door-to-door awareness campaigns," he said.
Sub divisions 2010 2011 2012 (so far)
Malerkotla 42 21 06
Sangrur 104 43 41
Dhuri 54 26 08
Sunam 38 25 07
Lehragaga 0 11 05
Moonak 61 07 04