KOCHI: Cochin Cancer Center is no more a rudderless ship. Neurosurgeon Dr P G Balagopal, who worked as an additional professor at the Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, took charge of the day-to-day affairs of the Out Patient section of the Cancer Centre.
Dr Balagopal, with 16 years of experience, had been handling head and neck oncology surgeries at RCC. The oncologist had been also an active figure in anti-tobacco campaign.
The key areas which he will look into are transportation woes, carrying out surgeries in collaboration with the Government Medical College and setting up of satellite centres in the neighbouring districts. He will also work towards bringing the treatment under government’s various benevolence schemes and also organise awareness programmes to educate the younger generation about the disease.
Lack of transportation is the biggest problem faced by the Cancer Centre OP which is located about 5 kilometres away from Aluva- Ernakulam main road and HMT Junction. “It has been decided to approach the Transport Minister, District Collector, KSRTC, RTO and private bus owners’ association regarding bus services to the hospital. The authorities will be urged to initiate steps to ensure bus services at least in the morning and evening. The patients who come to the cancer center OP are not rich. They can’t afford to hire autorickshaws or taxis from the main junction every time they come here,” he said.
Setting up satellite centres
Another project Dr Balagopal has in mind is setting up of satellite centres in each neighbour districts. Patients who had their first consultation at the Cancer Centre can undergo follow up treatment at these centres. This will cut the need to travel to Kochi frequently. “In order to have these centers up and running in the next 10 years, we have to initiate steps at the earliest,” he said.
IP and surgery
Dr Balagopal said the IP section and the surgical department too need to start functioning soon, since the patients will be able to reap the benefit of government’s beneficiary schemes only if the entire treatment is done at a single hospital.
“If the patient registered here is referred for surgery to some other hospital, he or she will not be covered by the benevolence schemes such like Karunya. Cancer Center OP has doctors who have experience in surgery. We can begin doing surgeries if the medical college authorities give us the green signal to use the operation theatre. At least two beds in post-operative ward also need to be allotted to the cancer patients. We are awaiting a favourable decision,” he adds.
As part of its social commitment programmes, the Cancer Centre plans to organise awareness programmes at schools. “Children are our target group because most smokers began their addiction before the age 20. The number of smokers who began smoking after 20 is very less. Therefore, we have to catch them young,” he said. He said the Cancer Centre has already launched screening programmes in the wards of Kalamassery Municipality. The target is to screen 4,000 women for cervical cancer. 70 houses have been covered so far,” he said.