CUTTACK: In 1988, the Acharya Harihar Regional Cancer Centre (AHRCC), then known as the Regional Centre for Cancer Research and Treatment Society (RCCR&TS), procured a Gamma Camera for Rs 52.33 lakh. It was the most advanced apparatus of the time to obtain accurate pictures of cancer affected parts, enabling directed treatment.
For more than eight years the equipment lied unused in the hospital just for the fact that the authorities could not get the required infrastructure and electrical installations ready and deal with rodent menace. Left to rot in improper environment, the machine developed irreparable snags and was finally discarded in 1997.
History is likely to repeat itself now. The state-of-the-art Linear Accelerator (LINAC) complex seems to be going the very way as the two advanced linear accelerators and a CT simulator are lying without installation for over a month. This time, the reason is delay in payment of dues to the executing agency.
The LINAC Complex, part of a seven-storied integrated hospital annexe, is ready with physical infrastructure and all the three machines have been received. But the installations are yet to be taken up raising fears that the delay might have an adverse impact on the functionality of the sophisticated equipment due to lack of proper storage environment.
The LINAC Complex project is being executed by Hindustan Lifecare Limited (HLL) on turnkey basis at an estimated cost of Rs 44 crore. Lack of payment to the tune of Rs 16 crore in lieu of the equipment procurement to the Central PSU by the Government has hindered the installation.
The LINAC machines procured for AHRCC are the most advanced with 3D imaging capabilities and can conduct multiple functions. The sophisticated machines should be immediately installed or stored in appropriate environment.
"The Gamma Camera was afflicted by fungus and rendered dysfunctional beyond repair. This could be the fate of the new machines if appropriate steps are not taken," sources said. The delay has been mainly at the end of the Government owing to change of Minister and Secretary at the Health and Family Welfare Department, sources said.
While calling for immediate steps to make the LINAC Complex functional, they averred it is depriving thousands of poor patients from effective treatment.
The hospital at present runs with a couple of decades-old Cobalt machines and receives more than 300 patients per day. The patients will be immensely benefited as latest radiotherapy services would be available at a fraction of cost to them. While Linac services cost upwards of Rs 80,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh per course in private centres, at AHRCC they would be offered at as low as Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000. AHRCC Director Prof SK Giri said, "The Health Department is abreast of the situation and is set to take expedient action in the direction. The Complex would be operational soon."