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Delay in funds release hampering cancer patients` treatment

By Ashfaq Yusufzai 2015-11-27
PESHAWAR: Delay in approval of funds for free treatment of cancer has been affecting the patients who are in the middle of their treatment, according to sources.

`Over 100 patients have left their treatment halfway due to unavailability of funds from the past two months. They couldn`t afford expensive treatment, but are dependent on the free cancer treatment programme of the government,` they said. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department had started the free cancer treatment programme in 2014 to facilitate people.About 700 patients have received full treatment and diagnostic services from the programme at the Hayatabad Medical Complex since its launch and 300 others were on the waiting list for free medication.

The health department didn`t allocate budget for the programme in the annual development programme and ended the project. But in view of doctors` request, the health minister and secretary agreed in August to allocate Rs121 million from Dec 2015 to June 2016, but despite several meetings the amount was yet to be made available for free medication of patients.

So far, the project`s tenure was one-year which was extended by the government to three years in order to ensure uninterrupted supplies of drugs and diagnostic facilities to the patients, the sources said.

They said thatfrequent changes in health department`s hierarchywere among the chief reasons due to which the amount was not released. A secretary health, who had dealt with the project and was aware of the programme`s background and effectiveness, was transferred a few weeks ago and the new secretary had to revisit the Kle, the sources said.

As a special case, the health department is required to write a summary to the government and get it approved by the chief minister to pave the way for purchase of drugs for patients. The sources said that the poor patients, who were getting treatment from the past one year, had been visiting the hospital to be able to continue their treatment regime, but returned disappointed.

They said that under the new plan the residents of Federally Administered Tribal Areas would also receive free treatment at HMC.The plan the minutes of which had been approved and signed by the health minister aims to seek Rs300 million for 2016-17, Rs400m for 2017-18 and Rs480 million for 2018-19 for free treatment programme.

The sources said that the patients received some drugs free of cost at the Day Care Centre of the HMC`s Oncology Department, but they didn`t get full-fledged treatment.

They claimed that some patients who wanted to continue their treatment even sold their belongings.

More patients, however, are waiting to get full regime of free drugs, they said.

The sources said that patients received free treatment under the programme regardless of their financial status because unlike other ailments cancer treatment for all types was the most expensive and the people couldn`t afford it.