Muktsar, Punjab: The alarming rise in cancer-related deaths in Malwa saw Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, during his recent visit to the state, including Bathinda, Hoshiarpur and Mansa districts under a national programme for prevention and control of the disease. But, Muktsar district, where around 1,100 deaths have been reported in the last 10 years, continues to be neglected in terms of steps to detect or prevent the disease.
There is not even a single government hospital in the district where people with cancer symptoms could go for diagnosis. As a result, they have to travel to neighbouring Faridkot district for getting screening tests done.
Surveys conducted by various NGOs have shown that a number of villages in Gidderbaha, Malout and Muktsar subdivisions were highly prone to the disease.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal lost his wife Surinder Kaur Badal to cancer last year while former Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar’s son Kanwarjit Singh Brar “Sunny”, a former Muktsar MLA, also died due to the disease.
Doctors claim that cancer was curable if detected at an early stage. But, the government has failed to make any arrangements for screening tests in the district even as the count of patients affected by the disease has been increasing.
A resident of Muktsar, Jagdeep Singh, whose wife is suffering from cancer, said, “The treatment is very costly. Both the Union and the state governments must take some initiatives to provide maximum assistance to patients suffering from this disease. Just providing medicines at cheaper prices is not enough.”
Muktsar Civil Surgeon Dr Gurdeep Singh Bhullar said, “We neither have a cancer specialist nor equipment to detect the disease. Whosoever comes to us, we refer him to hospitals in Faridkot, Ludhiana or Chandigarh.”
When asked whether inclusion of district under the programme was sought by the Health Department, Dr Gurdeep parried the query saying all districts would be covered under the national programme gradually.
Author: Archit Watts