COVID-19 lockdown leaves cancer patients in Kerala distressed 

Mohammed Salim, a resident of Angadipuram in Malappuram, has been frantically contacting medical stores and pharma distributors for the past few days to buy some medicines.

Published: 09th April 2020 06:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th April 2020 09:48 AM   |  A+A-

A man wearing a mask walks into the pigeons feeding on fallen grain at Valiyangadi which is empty and all the shops closed due the Covid-19 lockdown in Kozhikode. (Photo | Manu R Mavelil/EPS)

Express News Service

KOCHI: Mohammed Salim, a resident of Angadipuram in Malappuram, has been frantically contacting medical stores and pharma distributors for the past few days to buy some medicines. His four-year-old son Shadin is a leukaemia patient and has to visit the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) in Thiruvananthapuram every two months for treatment. The hospital provides medicines free-of-cost to the child. However, the lockdown has landed the family in dire straits.

“We had an appointment for April 1, but could not reach Thiruvananthapuram due to the lockdown. We have run out of medicine. Two days ago, an NGO delivered some medicine from Kozhikode, which will be over soon,” Salim said.

He is not alone. Hundreds of cancer patients across the state are in trouble. There are many who had to attend radiation and chemotherapy sessions in the past two weeks but are unable to reach the hospital due to the travel restrictions.

“My wife Thankamma, 62, is a breast cancer patient and has been undergoing treatment at the RCC for the past three years. We have medicine for only two days. I visited all medical stores at Pulpally in Wayanad with the prescription two days ago but it was not available,” said Scaria, a resident of Seetha Mount near Pulpally.

“My scheduled date for consultation was March 29. I contacted the hospital over the phone and was told to call after April 15,” said Gopi, a resident of Malappuram who is recuperating after an ENT surgery.

An official at RCC said they have made an arrangement with the Fire and Rescue Services and State Youth Commission to deliver medicines to cancer patients.

“Patients can contact us with their registration number and we will forward it to the doctor concerned.

The prescribed medicines will be delivered with the help of the district Fire Station,” said the official.

“Patients from northern districts buy medicine for two months when they come for treatment. They have been calling us complaining that they are not able to procure the medicine due to the lockdown,” state Drugs Controller Ravi S Menon told TNIE.

“The price of the medicines ranges from Rs 20,000 to Rs 1 lakh. We are trying to procure the medicine from the trade stock of companies in Mumbai, which offer some discount to regular customers,” he said.

Depending on RCC

Most patients from marginalised sections depend on RCC as it offers free treatment and medicines. There are 55 patients who avail free treatment and medicines under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi scheme of the Union Government.

Besides, there are many schemes of the state government and NGOs that offer support to the poor patients who are unable to bear the treatment expenses.

State Drugs Controller Ravi S Menon said they delivered medicines via drug inspectors to patients in Kasaragod and Kannur. An RCC official said they conducted four such trips in 10 days

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