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Free lunch to cancer patients at BBCI
Staff Reporter

Patients having lunch during launch of the Annakoot scheme. – UB Photos
 GUWAHATI, May 15 - The Dr Bhubaneswar Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI), GLP Social Circle and Hanuman Sewa Nidhi Trust have come forward to start an ambitious scheme for the first time in the North East to provide free lunch to cancer patients attending the Outpatient Department of the hospital on a regular basis.

The programme, ‘Annakoot’ – implemented in memory of the late Justice Dr BP Saraf on his fifth death anniversary – was inaugurated by Hrishikesh Goswami, Press Adviser to the Chief Minister, today.

Samir Sinha, Commissioner & Secretary, Health & Family Welfare Department, attended the programme as the chief guest and appreciated the initiative of the GLP Social Circle and BBCI. It was also attended by Mukul Chandra Gogoi, Secretary, Health & Family Welfare Department, as guest of honour and Dr R Bhuyan, Director of Health Services and Shantikam Hazarika, member, Management Council of BBCI, as distinguished guests.

GL Agarwala, chairman, GLP Social Circle, in his address said a long-felt dream to give free lunch to cancer patients attending OPD has been fulfilled with the initiative.

BBCI had recently launched a nutritional support programme for childhood and terminally ill cancer patients. Under it, patients are regularly distributed food products like Assam Mix (local cereal powder), mild powder, protein powder, etc., with generous contribution from donors.

At today’s function, Sankarlal Goenka, chairman, Jeevanram Mungi Devi Charitable Trust, was felicitated for donating Rs 1 lakh to BBCI for the community oncology programme and BP Saraf, managing trustee of Matri Mandir for donating Rs 1 lakh for the nutritional support programme and treatment of poor cancer patients. Ashok Saraf, advocate, Gauhati High Court, was also felicitated for providing financial support for the ‘Annakoot’ scheme.

“It is hoped that all such initiatives will bring patients, doctors, families and other supporting staff closer to each other and it will thus create a right ambience for the patients to live with dignity and honour,” Dr AC Kataki, Director, BBCI said.

As per the Population-Based Cancer Registry of the Indian Council of Medical Research, the incidence of cancer is highest in the north-eastern region of the country. The national average incidence of cancer ranges from 90 to 150 new cases per one lakh population. However, the incidence of cancer in Aizawl district of Mizoram is the highest in the country – 270 per one lakh population. This is followed by Papumpare district of Arunachal Pradesh (230 per one lakh population), East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya (218 per one lakh population), and Kamrup (Metro) district (206 per one lakh population).

The relatively higher incidence of cancer in the North East is largely due to excessive tobacco consumption, betelnut chewing, alcohol, and dietary habits. Assam recorded 31,474 new cancer cases in 2015 and about 16,029 patients died due to cancer that year.

In the financial year 2016-17, BBCI registered 11,864 new and 77,457 old cancer patients. “Traditionally cancer is treated in a multi-disciplinary manner involving radiotherapy, surgery, and chemotherapy either alone or in various combinations. Due to various socio-economic factors more than two-thirds of all cancer patients are diagnosed in the advanced stage, which requires palliative care,” Dr Kataki said.

Considering the large number of patients in Assam and the North East and the limited cancer treatment facilities, BBCI has also started MD Radiotherapy, Mch Surgical Oncology, MSc Radiological Physics, Postgraduate Fellowships in Oncology, and many other academic courses. Super specialist DM in Medical Oncology will start from August 2017, which will be the first in the entire eastern India, Dr Kataki added.

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