GMC Anantnag lacks radiotherapy facility, cancer patients suffer

Talking to Greater Kashmir over phone, Dr Tariq Qureshi, principal GMC, Anantnag said the machines would be procured soon.
Representational Image
Representational ImageFile/ GK

Anantnag , July 17 : In May 2021, Jammu and Kashmir was caught in the throes of COVID-19 with daily cases shooting through the roof. Amidst the restrictions, imposed to stave off the further transmission of the virus, Mohammad Ismail had to struggle hard to take his father to SKIMS, Soura almost on a daily basis for radiotherapy.

His father Mohammad Yousuf, a resident of Qaimoh village in south Kashmir's Kulgam district, some 59 km from Srinagar, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer at Government Medical College (GMC) Anantnag and required radiotherapy after he had undergone a series of chemotherapy sessions.

Yousuf was to be administered around 25 radiotherapy fractions, and in absence of the radiation equipments at GMC, Anantnag, Ismail had to take his father to SKIMS well-nigh on a daily basis for more than four weeks.

"It was an arduous task to get to Srinagar during the peak of ferocious second wave of coronavirus ", said Ismail, who works as a teacher in a local private school.

He said that the travel ballooned the cost of the treatment.

"It would have been much easier and less expensive for us, had the treatment been available at GMC Anantnag", said Ismail.

The Department of Oncology has been operating at the GMC Anantnag since its inception in 2019.

With a significant increase in the number of cancer patients over the past few years, the hospital receives a good number of patients from southern parts of the Valley.

The hospital based cancer registry ( HBCR) suggests that around 450 cancer patients are registered with the GMC, Anantnag.

An official, who declined to be quoted, said that they also received the patients from Jammu division's Banihal and its adjoining areas.

However, the non-availability of radiation equipments like Telecobalt and Linear Accelerator( LINAC) machines force such patients to seek treatment in other hospitals and are put through the mill.

"Most of the patients move to SKIMS or SMHS for the radiotherapy, which are already overrun with the patients", said the official.

He said that a significant number of the cancer patients required radiotherapy at some stage.

"Many poor patients living in the outlying villages of south Kashmir could not afford to go to Srinagar, let alone the private hospitals outside the Valley", said the official.

Referring to a patient, he said that a female patient from a far-off village of Anantnag district, who was advised to undergo radiotherapy at SKIMS turned up at the facility after 8 months without receiving the same .

The patient , according to the official, was badly off and could not travel to Srinagar.

“And by then her cancer had reached an advanced stage”, he added.

Talking to Greater Kashmir over phone, Dr Tariq Qureshi, principal GMC, Anantnag said the machines would be procured soon.

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