Despite branches across India, Tata hospital continues to be crowded

Updated: Dec 05, 2019, 08:13 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

While the numbers at TMH in Parel continue to be high, its centres in three other cities have also seen a rise as more new patients seek treatment

The hospital management is planning to increase the capacity of beds for paediatric cancer patients at Varanasi and Vishakhapatnam and a new centre. File pic
The hospital management is planning to increase the capacity of beds for paediatric cancer patients at Varanasi and Vishakhapatnam and a new centre. File pic

Though it opened three paediatric cancer units in other cities, the number of paediatric cancer patients at the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) continues to be high, and the centres too have seen a rise in their numbers. Barring the 50-60 patients referred by TMH, all the centres have cumulatively witnessed 3,500 new patients since January this year and the hospital administration expects the number to increase to 5,000 by next year. Typically, TMH gets around 2,500 new patients every year.

Rising numbers
The TMH's Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital opened in Varanasi and Vishakhapatnam last year. While the centre in Varanasi reported around 500 new cases, the centre in Vishakhapatnam reported another 200-250 cases. The TMH's B Borooah Cancer Institute in Guwahati has reported 500 new patients this year. Dr Girish Chinnaswamy, head of Paediatric Oncology at TMH said, "Once the other centres opened, we had expected the number of patients at TMH to drop since we thought that parents of children afflicted with cancer would prefer to take them to a centre closer to their home. But data shows that the number of patients coming to TMH remained the same and new patients are going to the other centres."

Projected data suggests that while there are around 40,000-50,000 new paediatric cancer patients every year, only 2,000-3,000 of them seek medical care at a hospital. Dr Shripad Banavali, Director of Academics at TMH pointed out that in many cases, cancer isn't detected in a child even after his or her death since there isn't sufficient awareness about paediatric cancer. He emphasised the need of creating a separate registry for paediatric cancer patients under the National Cancer Grid. "Adult cancers are preventable and paediatric cancers are curable. But there isn't enough awareness. Twenty per cent of childhood cancer cases are in India and if we have to improve the cure rate, we will have to find a way of giving them treatment closer to their homes," he said.

Another new unit
The hospital management is planning to increase the capacity of beds for paediatric cancer patients at Varanasi and Vishakhapatnam over the next few months. Another comprehensive cancer unit will come up at Mullanpur in Punjab. Over and above the medical treatment, the other centres will soon also have support services which include financial planning of a child's treatment with the help of government schemes and CSR funds.

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