How 3 Mumbai hospitals are working together to help cancer patients

In a city where public-private partnerships in healthcare haven't been successful 11 of 13 such hospitals built on BMC lands and meant to reserve free beds have been found not adhering to the rules a set of three hospitals are showing the way to compassion.

Sion Hospital
Sion Hospital

Over the last seven years, the collaboration between Mazgaon's Prince Aly Khan Hospital, Sion’s Lokmanya Tikal General Hospital and Mumbai Central’s BYL Nair Hospital has led to treatment for 350 patients suffering from cancer in the Head and Neck (H&N) region. They have treated 800 others.

Dr Sultan Pradhan
Dr Sultan Pradhan

While both Sion and Nair are BMC-run hospitals, Prince Aly Khan is a private hospital, built on BMC land. The treatment model is the brain-child of its chief of surgical oncology Dr Sultan Pradhan.

Attacking H&N cancers
According to statistics, H&N cancers account for 30-40 per cent of all cancer patients in India. These are cancers of the oral cavity, larynx and pharynx, sinuses, which further spread to the neck.

Men have been seen to be most vulnerable, with tobacco and alcohol abuse said to be the main cause. However, due to the high cost, oncologists across the country found that many discontinued the treatment. Parel’s TATA Memorial Hospital is the only facility in the city to treat specialised cancer patients.

And, with patients coming in from across Asia, it is falling short of hands, In 2005, Pradhan and his team mooted the idea of a PPP that would leverage the skills and entrepreneurship of the private sector and club it with the reach and welfare orientation of the public sector.

With the aim of creating a facility that would cater to the needs of the underprivileged, the collaboration between the departments of ENT at Sion and Nair hospital, both medical college institutions of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on one hand and the department of surgical oncology at Prince Aly Khan Hospital, a private institution, on the other hand.

As part of the programme, Prince Aly Khan Hospital treats and examines patients with H&N cancers who come to Sion and Nair hospitals. The patients are largely those who come here because they can’t afford treatment at a private hospital. Also, since the load at these hospitals is more, they would often be sent to Tata Memorial, which was also being over-burdened.

Now, doctors from the Mazgaon hospital visit the other two when they are informed of patients. In addition, the doctors also perform the complicated ENT surgeries on patients from these hospitals, free of any charge to either the hospital or patient.

“We schedule our other appointments accordingly,” says Pradhan. The doctors have also been supervising and guiding the post graduate students of the colleges in order to impart their knowledge and skills.

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