Wednesday, June 23

Curbing cancer treatment cost a challenge: Experts

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Cost-effective cancer care is a challenge at a time when infrastructure maintenance is turning expensive and state hospitals are failing to cope with the swelling of patients that depend on them for treatment. The rising medico-legal expenses, triggered by frequent litigations against private hospitals over the last two-and-half years, too, have proved to be an obstacle in rationalizing charges, observed speakers at a panel discussion on “Bengal’s cancer care needs a booster dose in cost, quality, infrastructure or just credibility” organized by the Bengal Oncology Foundation on Sunday.

Even though the government was providing free treatment, the huge load on state hospitals was proving to be a deterrent in cancer treatment, felt director of medical Education Pradip Mitra, one of the panellists. “Cancer treatment can’t wait, nor can it be deferred. So, a section of patients is being forced to seek treatment at private hospitals which are often prohibitively expensive. This is an unfortunate situation,” said Mitra.

Lack of credibility, too, is often coming in the way of cost-effective cancer treatment in Kolkata, said oncologist Subir Ganguly, another panellist. “Patients are travelling to southern states for treatment which reflects poorly on the credibility of our hospitals. In order to make it cost-effective, we can’t afford to sacrifice treatment quality. If the government has to subsidize treatment cost, then it must be done,” said Ganguly.

It’s indeed a challenge to bring down or even control treatment charges at a time when costs were difficult to contain, said oncologist Gautam Mukhopadhyay, one of the moderators of the discussion. “The idea is to ensure that every cancer patient goes through the entire course of treatment. Unfortunately, a sizeable number, especially in rural areas, quit treatment simply because they can’t afford it. This can be prevented to an extent if cancer is detected early and it is prevented. The latter can only be done by raising awareness which remains low,” said Mukhopadhyay. Chaitali Dasgupta, Sujay Chatterjee and Sudipa Basu also participated in the talks.

 

Source: Times of India

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