Healing the hopeless

Amid surging cancer cases, Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital emerges as a beacon of hope in Punjab, offering not only medical treatment but also financial aid and support to patients in its commitment to holistic care and welfare, says Harpreet Bajwa
Healing the hopeless

PUNJAB : Amid a 7% increase in cancer cases in Punjab, from 39,521 in 2021 to 42,288 in 2024, according to data from the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Cancer Registry Programme, the 300-bed Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in New Chandigarh, a grant-in-aid institute of the Department of Atomic Energy of the Union government, inaugurated by the Prime Minister in 2022, has been aiding needy and impoverished patients under various government schemes.

Additionally, it operates its own patient welfare fund, offering medicines in-house with discounts ranging from 30% to 40%, particularly on chemotherapy drugs.

Nimrat Kaur, a 5-year-old diagnosed with lymphoma, received financial aid of Rs 2.25 lakh from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund. Her father, a carpenter, was assisted by the institute’s Medical Social Worker department in applying for this assistance. Nimrat’s treatment is further supported by Rs 90,000 from the institute’s Patient Welfare Fund, significantly alleviating the burden on her family, who had previously spent around Rs 1.50 lakh out of pocket.

The Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital in Sangrur commenced operations in 2015. Notably, under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, providing cashless treatment up to Rs 5 lakh per family annually, around 7,600 patients are currently receiving treatment at both the New Chandigarh and Sangrur facilities. Furthermore, financial aid is extended to patients through various schemes, including the Mukh Mantri Raahat Kosh Scheme, Ministry of Women and Child Development, and in-house patient welfare funds.

Ramesh, a 49-year-old farmer from Varanasi, diagnosed with fourth-stage cancer due to prolonged tobacco use, received assistance at the New Chandigarh facility after being referred from Varanasi. Classified under the “Nominal Charges” category due to financial constraints, he received Rs 25,000 from the Patient Welfare Fund, Rs 10,000 in donations, and Rs 50,000 from the Cancer Awareness Society, an NGO based in Sangrur.

Across the country, there are ten Homi Bhabha Cancer facilities, including two in Punjab, New Chandigarh and Sangrur, where daily footfalls reach 300 and 400 patients, respectively. Patients receive comprehensive care through specialized disease management groups, streamlining treatment processes.

The institute also provides psychological counselling, arranges funds for underprivileged patients, and manages accommodations for their relatives, ensuring holistic support. Dr. Ashish Gulia, director of the institute, emphasizes its role as a public sector tertiary care cancer centre dedicated to providing state-of-the-art cancer care, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express