It will be difficult for the Shiromani Akali Dal candidate from Bathinda, Harsimrat Kaur Badal to keep the promise of providing low-cost cancer treatment in the Malwa belt after the parliamentary elections are over.
The proposed Advanced Cancer Diagnostic, Treatment and Research Institute (ACDTRI) in Bathinda is part of Harsimrat’s election campaign and flex boards publicising it have sprung up across the city.
While the ACDTRI has again failed meet its latest deadline, the big worry for cancer patients is that the institute may also fail in keeping the cost of the treatment on a par with the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research ( PGIMER ) , Chandigarh, as promised by the state government.
Malwa’s cancer patients travelling to Bikaner in the ‘Cancer Train’ is a tragic story read around the world. The Punjab government provided public land to set up a super-specialty private cancer hospital in Bathinda. As patients continued to board the ‘Cancer Train’ due to high cost of treatment at the private hospital in Bathinda, it was proposed to set up ACDTRI in the public sector.
Talking to Hindustan Times during his recent visit to the institute, ACDTRI director Dr MK Mahajan said the PGIMER model treating patients at low cost is a complex issue. “The PGI gets huge funding from the central government. Even All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which also has good funding, cannot afford to treat cancer patients at the PGI rates,” said Mahajan. When asked about the source of funding to run the institute, he said, “We are committed to providing cancer treatment as lowest possible rates. We expect that the cancer fund established by the state government will provide funds.”
“We are working on the modalities. If we get 1,000 patients a year, we can get Rs 10 Rs 15 crore from the cancer fund,” said Mahajan.
The ACDTRI was supposed to start OPD by March. Dr Mahajan said, “It can take four to five months to start the operations.”
However, he was not in a position to give any insight that when the ACDTRI would become completely functional.