A cancer hospital that cannot even diagnose cancer

Published On: February 19, 2019 08:37 AM NPT By: GANESH BK

NEPALGUNJ, Feb 19: Considered to be a promising development in the field of cancer treatment, the Sushil Koirala Prakhar Cancer Hospital (SKPCH) was established in Khajura of Banke last year. To enable the hospital to provide quality services, it was provided with millions-worth infrastructures and equipment. 

To a great joy of the people of the mid and the far western region, the hospital started its outpatient department (OPD) service from June 25. However, eight months down the line, the hospital has hugely dejected these elated locals. Though it has the infrastructure, the hospital has not been even able to diagnose cancer patients, let alone treatment, in lack of human resources and equipment. 

“We don’t have the required equipment and human resources to provide services. In the lack of equipment and human resources with specialized technical knowledge, it is not possible to diagnose cancer,” said the hospital’s Chief, Bishworam Poudel. “We have been forced to refer patients elsewhere, it is a very sorry state,” he added.

The hospital sends patients to Chitwan and Bhaktapur for the checkup. Over 15 patients visit the hospital on a daily basis just to be told that they have to rush somewhere else for diagnosis.

“We receive around 15 to 20 patients in a day. We have no option than to ask them to go to Chitwan or to the Bhaktapur cancer hospitals. They feel really bad,” Poudel reported stating they don’t have an option other than that.

The hospital was established in the region with an objective of providing such services to service seekers in the western part of the country. With the establishment of the hospital, it was expected that the needy would not have to travel to Bharatpur or to Bhaktapur for checkups. 

Presently the hospital attends to patients with general ailments. Patients that show symptoms of cancer are referred elsewhere for further diagnosis and treatment. The only relief to cancer patients the hospital has provided is the availability of medicine. Following diagnosis and treatment in hospitals elsewhere, some patients, mostly that are near to the hospital, visit the hospital for medicine. 

Samjhana Bohora of Salyan has a mass of tissue in her throat. She visited the hospital this Friday for a checkup doubting it to be a tumor. “It took an entire day for me to reach here. I came in public vehicle,” she said. She had no doubt that the hospital would identify the problem. After all, she was visiting a cancer hospital. 

“However, upon coming here I realized that I came to a wrong place. If I had known that this hospital does not diagnose cancer-related ailments, I would have gone elsewhere. Most probably I would have gone to Kathmandu,” she lamented. When she consulted the doctors at the hospital, like others she was advised to visit cancer hospital in Chitwan or Bhaktapur.  There are many patients like Bohora that are dejected by the hospital. From the far and midwestern region, patients visit the hospital with great hope and then get disappointed.

“There are many people in my village who fear that they might have some type of cancer. These days, this disease seems to have been so common. But in the lack of a clinic or hospital nearby to diagnose, people in our region don’t visit distant cancer hospitals until it is very late,” narrated Bohora. “And I have been told by some people that cancer cannot be cured if it reaches advanced stages.”

Though the fear of cancer developing to advance stage is bothering Bohora, she is yet to plan her visit to another cancer hospital. “To visit a distant hospital I have to arrange people for taking care of my home, arrange money and people to accompany me to that hospital. It is not possible for me to visit another hospital right away. I will have to return home and plan the visit. I had to go through many difficulties even for coming here,” she said.

Sita Basnet of Kohalpur also has the same story. She also had come for a thorough check up as she felt ‘something wrong’ with her health. “But here, they say that I should go to cancer hospitals either in Chitwan or Bhaktapur. What is the use of this cancer hospital? if it cannot even diagnose the disease?” she wondered.

Basnet’s health is deteriorating for some time now and further delays in treatment could be fatal for her. However, going to the hospital ‘that far away’ is not easy for her.  “Both the places are like foreign land for us. We will need a lot of money to seek treatment there. It would have been a lot better if this hospital provided these services, as it is supposed to,” she said.

The hospital has 100 beds. However, in the lack of human resources, it does not take more than 60 patients. “We don’t have the required number of human resources to provide the services,” explained Poudel.

Paudel said that the hospital needs at least 30 specialists and 200 medical staff to run the hospital in its full capacity. Presently the hospital has only four specialists.


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