Kashmir needs a State-of-the-Art Charitable Cancer Hospital

A Not-for-Profit, State-of-the-Art, Cancer-Care Centre committed to delivering Comprehensive Cancer care with cutting-edge technology and world-renowned oncologists is the need of the hour.
Representational Image
Representational ImageFile/ GK

Cancer is a global health challenge, affecting millions of lives worldwide. Unfortunately, low- & middle-income states (LMIS) like ours often lack adequate healthcare infrastructure, and existing cancer treatment facilities like regional cancer care centers are overburdened. In such regions, the need for state-of-the-art charitable cancer hospitals under one roof becomes crucial. Diagnosing and treating cancer is not what it was two decades before. To get treated at the best available cancer facility is a patient's right. From choosing the right doctors to getting the right tests done at the right place at the right time, preferably under one roof, how you manage your cancer makes a big difference in cancer management. 

This writeup aims to explore the significance of these hospitals in low and middle-income (LMIS) J & K, highlighting their role in providing affordable comprehensive cancer care under one roof.

Fragmented cancer care (FC), or care received from multiple institutions, increases systemic healthcare costs and potentiates cancer care disparities, often resulting in delayed diagnoses and limited access to specialized treatments, which ultimately affects outcomes, increases costs, and requires multiple visits to facility management. State-of-the-art charitable cancer hospitals under one roof offer numerous advantages for patients, healthcare providers, and the healthcare system as a whole. They offer comprehensive and coordinated care, streamlined communication, bringing together multidisciplinary teams of medical professionals, enhanced patient convenience, faster diagnosis and treatment, access to the latest cutting-edge technology, and continuous follow-up care. While upfront costs may be higher for establishing a comprehensive cancer care center, in the long run, it can lead to cost savings.

Holistic Support Services: In addition to medical treatments, these centers often provide a range of support services, such as psychological and nutrition counseling, pain management, end-of-life care, hospice, and palliative care. Having all cancer care services in one location allows for a multidisciplinary approach to treatment. These hospitals can attract many renowned oncologists, researchers, philanthropists, and educators who provide mentorship and hands-on training to the local healthcare workforce. Through capacity building, these hospitals empower local doctors, nurses, and technicians to acquire specialized knowledge and skills necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, addressing the growing burden of cancer in (LMIS).

Specialists from different disciplines, such as medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and supportive care providers, can collaborate seamlessly, leading to a comprehensive and coordinated treatment plan. Overall, bringing state-of-the-art cancer care under one roof offers a patient-centered, efficient, and effective approach to cancer treatment and management, ultimately improving outcomes and patient experience.

Due to substantial progress made in the early detection, rapid diagnosis, and management of cancer patients, there has been a significant increase in the survival and quality of life of survivors. Roughly, cure rates have improved each year in the last two decades in these regions. However, developing nations have bigger challenges owing to a lack of cancer awareness, lack of adequate resources, and inadequate health spending to deal with the increasing incidence of cancer. A lot more needs to be done on all fronts. There is a huge disparity in cancer prognosis between developing and developed countries. Cancer treatment can have a significant impact on patients and their families, both financially and emotionally. The high cost of cancer treatment pushes many families below the poverty line, adding an additional burden to an already challenging situation. Moreover, the financial strain of cancer treatment often leads to emotional exhaustion and fatigue, making the follow-up process even more daunting.

Charitable hospitals step in to provide medical services to these individuals, ensuring they receive essential care. The philosophy of a State of art charitable cancer hospital focused on making Quality healthcare affordable and accessible to the below poverty group is rooted in the principles of social justice, compassion, and the belief that every individual deserves access to basic healthcare services, regardless of their financial status. Serving the uninsured and underinsured in our state, there are significant numbers of people who either don't have health insurance or have limited coverage. Even with health insurance, some people may face financial hardships due to high deductibles, copays, or non-covered services. Charitable hospitals aid those struggling with medical bills. Overall, the philosophy of a charitable hospital focused on making healthcare affordable and accessible to the below poverty group reflects its dedication to social welfare and its commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of those who need it most and reduces markedly the crowd funding appeals from desperate needy patients.

Who is not affected by cancer directly or indirectly, your dear or near one, someone in your office, in the neighborhood, and the rising cancer incidence in the Valley is stretching the RCC facility at SKIMS and GMCs at district levels for diagnosis, management, and treatment beyond limits, forcing many patients to seek treatment in the private sector or go outside the state—sometimes after selling all the land and property. Addressing Healthcare Inequalities, a philanthropic project of Kashmir Charitable Cancer Hospital (KCCH) endeavors to plug gaps in the Government’s socio-economic healthcare policy programs and reach out to sections of people often left untouched by state projects. Bridging the gap through local projects like KCCH and bringing together affordable & accessible multidisciplinary cancer care all under one roof. That under-one-roof philosophy is one that has guided the recent surge in dedicated cancer centers around the world, particularly in the west, now trending throughout India. Guided by the principles of equity & justice, accessibility, affordability, reliability, empathy, and professionalism aiming to provide cancer care with sincerity of purpose and effort in all conduct and continual quality improvement and compliance with all applicable standards – “Best effort the first time and every time.”

Strategic And Operational Goal of a charitable/not-for-profit hospital is to bring cancer care for all regardless of socioeconomic status, bridge the gap between the privileged and underprivileged. It offers financial assistance programs, subsidizes treatment costs, and reduces the burden of out-of-pocket expenses for low-income patients. By reaching out to marginalized populations, these hospitals contribute to reducing disparities in cancer outcomes, empowering individuals with knowledge and access to healthcare services.

Together We Can Do & Achieve Better: Cancer Burden is overwhelming in Kashmir, and many encouraging announcements from Hon’ble LG to tackle this situation are a welcome step. Cancer care remains a top concern even for civil society; not a day passes when crowd funding appeals for needy cancer patients are not uploaded on social media. Cancer management pushes many families below the poverty line, draining them both financially and emotionally. It is essential for society to provide comprehensive support systems to alleviate these burdens and ensure that families affected by cancer receive the assistance they need to navigate this difficult journey. The establishment of state-of-the-art charitable cancer hospitals under one roof in (LMIS) is essential, ensuring that individuals in underserved areas receive the medical attention they need to lead healthy lives.

Help us, lead us, facilitate and join this caravan of beating cancer, contribute with your participation, like, partake, take part in, take-part, indulge, engage, contribute, concur, associate with, be a party in Leadership and Governance to KCCH mission and Vision to beat Cancer. KCCH sounds of hope and hope is power. Insha Allah, we are determined and will not hesitate to go outside of our hospital walls and make it happen; we will not hesitate to join hands or collaborate with anyone apolitical, individual, group, NGO, Government any facility with MOUs which reduce hardships in cancer patients' life. We all believe in this goal, expecting that the Government will take immediate steps to tackle this situation and facilitate the building of state-of-the-art Cancer Hospitals in JK and support any such non-Government initiatives for the welfare of Society and people of JK.

The author is an onco-surgeon leading the group campaigning for Kashmir Charitable Cancer Hospital.

The other members are Dr. Qazi Imtiaz (Head and Neck Onco-surgeon) and Mr. Arshad Hussein, Mrs. Sonam Reshi, Socialites, and others.

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