Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, has decided to open three new centres for paediatric cancer treatment across the country in view of increasing number of cases at the hospital, and the acute shortage of paediatric oncologists and oncosurgeons in the country,
These facilities will come up in Vishakhapatnam, Guwahati and Varanasi, in the next four months, Dr Rajendra Badwe, director, Tata Memorial, the nation’s largest cancer hospital, said.
“Given the increase in new registrations of paediatric cases and the increasing load, we have decided to come up with three new centres in the country. These will be ‘excellence centres’ in three places and if the demand arises, we will also extend the facilities to other cities as well,” he said.
He drew attention to the acute shortage of experts in paediatric oncology and said the country needs “200 per cent more paediatric oncologists and oncosurgeons.”
The Tata Memorial hospital treats at least 75,000 patients each year.
Over the last three years, Tata Memorial itself has seen a 39 per cent rise in the number of paediatric cancer cases from 2008 in 2015 to approximately 2800 in 2018. The registration number for 2018 is yet to be finalised, he said. According to Dr. Badwe, 30 per cent of these cases were from Maharashtra and the rest were from across the country.
“There is definitely a rise in cases in the OPD (out patient department) and the centres are needed to salvage the children on time so that the cases are not lost,” he said.
In the adolescent age group (13-18 years), bone tumour was commonly seen and often, salvaging the limb becomes a challenge. “We need more experts in this field as we do not want the child to suffer from poor quality of life due to amputation of the limb which could have been saved. These centres will have our experts who will see all the paediatric cases for free. The entire treatment will be free of cost in all the three upcoming centres,” he said.
Dr Shripad Banavali, director (academics), Tata Memorial, said, “We have started the recruitment for the three centres. There will be an entire team to handle paediatric oncology and will include, radiation, pathology, social worker teams.”
New recruits and doctors trained by Tata Memorial would be deployed at these centres. Once a month, the TMH faculty will pay a visit to all the three centres with the parent hospital providing expertise and support.
“We aim to treat as many kids as possible whose parents cannot afford expensive treatment in big and private hospitals. The cost of treatment will be entirely free,” Dr Banavali said.