NEW DELHI: First Saturday of every month at Narayan Medical College (Jamuhar) in Bihar, hundreds of people, some of them even travelling over 150km, visit an oncologist who comes from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and has been providing free treatment for the past nine years.
Dr Sunil Kumar, an Assistant Professor of cancer surgery at AIIMS, has never missed the first weekend to visit his birthplace, Dehri in Rohtas district, which he choose to begin with his NGO ‘Chandrakanti Devi Cancer Foundation’ named after his mother, a cancer survivor.
“I was practicing in the US when my mother was diagnosed with cancer, which made me realise the need for making cancer care accessible to rural parts. I joined AIIMS in 2012, and started this NGO next year. At first, only five people supported my cause. Now, the NGO has 14-15 volunteers, and when anyone suspected with cancer approaches the doctors here, they inform my NGO members,” he said.
This foundation runs a cancer clinic where free consultation with treatment planning is done, and if advanced treatment at AIIMS is needed, the patients are provided with all the assistance.
“Our primary focus is to spread awareness about cancer and provide free treatment to cancer patients. In rural belts, especially in Bihar, access to advanced healthcare is limited. Most of the patients coming to AIIMS are in advanced stages or are in poor conditions. Early detection is the ultimate cure for this disease. So my target was that if those diagnosed with cancer are screened early, they can be admitted to AIIMS for better treatment,” he added.
The foundation holds monthly public cancer awareness at schools, colleges and government health centres.
“I am also training local healthcare workers so they can be approached for initial care. For example, if a woman has developed a lump in her breast, she will only be able to communicate this to
a female healthcare worker,” Dr Kumar noted.