The country’s premier cancer treatment hub, Tata Memorial Centre in Parel, will shortly double the number of paediatric patients it treats annually. From 2,500-odd children who took treatment at this central government facility in 2018, the institute plans to extend its free treatment avenues to 5,000 children by the end of 2020.
This, said senior doctors, has been possible because Tata Memorial Centre recently built or has taken over three hospitals: Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital in Varanasi, Vishakapatnam and B Borooah Cancer Institute in Guwahati.
The Varanasi centre, which opened in January, has treated 500 patients. “The idea is to make treatment available for children close to their home instead of families travelling to Mumbai,” said TMC director (academics) Dr Sripad Banavali.
TMC began “decentralization of treatment” from its Mumbai centre a few years back, hoping to reduce the load of patients. Accordingly, 50 children who had come to Mumbai for treatment from Uttar Pradesh were referred to the Varanasi hospital. “But we found 450 other children who had never come to Mumbai for a referral had registered for treatment, pointing to the fact that people are accessing treatment as it is nearer to them,’’ said Dr Girish Chinnaswamy, who heads the paediatric oncology department.
TMC also began implementing its holistic plan of providing each patient’s family with financial help, support with accommodation and other domestic needs at the new centres. “Our model has improved cure rates and drastically reduced dropout rate,’’ said Shalini Jatia of ImPaCCT Foundation, which works with TMC.-Times Of India