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Cancer institute grappling with manpower crisis
R Dutta Choudhury
 GUWAHATI, June 12 - Despite very high incidence of cancer in the Northeast region, the treatment facilities are very limited and Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI), the only such institute in the region, is grossly overburdened. The cancer institute is also facing acute shortage of doctors and nurses and the only hope of the management of the institute is that the situation would improve if it is taken over by the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India.

The Director of the BBCI, Dr AC Kataki, told The Assam Tribune that last year alone, the institute treated around 80,000 patients, of which around 10,000 were new patients and the rest were old patients who had to come for regular treatment or check-up. He said the number of patients from all over the region is growing with every passing year. He also admitted that to cope up with the requirement of the patients, there is an urgent need for upgradation of the institute, both in terms of infrastructure and manpower. Giving an estimate of shortage of manpower, Dr Kataki said that at present, there is a shortage of at least 15 doctors and about the same number of nurses. He, however, revealed that steps have been initiated to fill up some of the vacant posts by next month.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in its Vision Document released before the Assembly polls, promised that the institute would be upgraded into a state-of-the-art institute and Dr Kataki also admitted that there is need for developing it into a centre of excellence not only for cancer treatment, but also for research and education.

There has also been a move to transfer the institute under the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India. But the Prime Minister’s Office will have to give the nod for the same.

The BBCI Director, in June 2014, had appraised Sarbananda Sonowal, who was the Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports at that time, about the present state of affairs and requested him to take up the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi so that Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute is brought under the Department of Atomic Energy and developed as a centre of excellence for cancer treatment, education and research. Dr Kataki also requested Governor PB Acharya and the Union Minister in charge of the Department for Development of North East Region, Dr Jitendra Singh, to take up the issue with the Prime Minister.

Sonowal reportedly took up the issue with the Prime Minister, while the Atomic Energy Commission has already recommended transfer of the cancer institute to the Department. The Government of Assam on its part has also issued its no objection in this regard.

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