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Posted at: Apr 21, 2017, 1:06 AM; last updated: Apr 21, 2017, 1:06 AM (IST)

Health dept shelves SKIMS cancer outreach programme

Samaan Lateef

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, April 20

The health authorities have shelved the cancer outreach programme which was aimed at screening and treating cancer at an early stage in rural areas of Kashmir.

The decision to shelve the programme was taken in October during the governing body meeting of the Kashmir’s premier tertiary care hospital, SK Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), chaired by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

“The cancer outreach programme was shot down in October meeting after two chronic private practitioners provided misleading information to the Chief Minister,” said Dr Altaf Gauhar Haji, associate professor, Surgical Oncology Department, SKIMS.

SKIMS and the Directorate of Health Services, Kashmir, had signed an MoU in 2014 for collaborative cancer services in peripheries “to reach out to the patients at the doorsteps for early detection and intervention of cancer”.

Under the MoU, the Oncology Department of the SKIMS sent teams of cancer surgeons to district hospitals in the periphery for intervention.

Under the programme, Haji said they detected 300 cancer patients and conducted 94 surgeries in several district hospitals. “We have not taken any money from the government or charged the patients. It gave a dent to the private practitioners, who used to charge huge money from poor patients for surgeries,” he said.

Last year, the government nominated head of the General Surgery Department Prof Khurshid Alam and Neurosurgery Department Prof Altaf Ramzan as members of the governing body and apical selection committee, respectively. The appointments were made to bring in service members in the governing body who could contribute for uplifting the SKIMS.

However, Haji alleged that both the doctors were chronic private practitioners. “They were against the cancer outreach programme from day one. The programme had hit their private practice and they shot it down in the governing body meeting,” he added.

Haji further said they conducted 40 camps in far-flung areas in Kashmir to screen and treat cancer patients.

However, SKIMS director Dr AG Ahangar said the task of re-examining and redrafting the cancer outreach programme had been assigned to renowned gastroenterologist Dr MS Khuroo, who is a member of the SKIMS governing body.

“As and when he (Khuroo) submits the redrafted programme to the Chief Minister’s office, it will be started again,” Ahangar said.


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