“It is a myth that cancer is just a health issue”; says the World Cancer Day website run by the Union for International Cancer Control. “Cancer negatively impacts families; ability to earn an income, with high treatment costs pushing them further into poverty”
The Indian Government’s National Cancer Control Programme, estimates that there are between 2 and 2.5 million cancer patients in the country at any given point of time. As per a BCG study in 2010, as opposed to the 200 cancer centers in existence, India needed at least 840. It is estimated that India has only 2000 oncologists while it needs thrice as many. It is obvious that a shortage of doctors will take its toll on the number of hospitals offering cancer care. Setting up a fully-fledged cancer hospital is capital-intensive – a 100-bed hospital in a city could reportedly cost as much as Rs 50 crore. And human resources, from doctors to nurses to technicians are also a
Cancer treatment runs into lakhs of rupees especially when the disease is detected in advanced stages requiring surgery or extensive treatment. By one estimate, over 45 percent of families with one cancer patient face catastrophic expenditures and 25 percent are pushed below the poverty line (BPL). Medical insurance is the only way one can cope with mounting expenses and since India has not seen too much investment in health, it is a long road ahead.
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