Byline: Divya. Parashar
Health care in India is a three-tier system - the Government funded sector, the private sector, and Non Government Organizations (NGO). The Government funded health sector is the largest, providing care to two thirds of the population, but their facilities are usually overcrowded and they have limited resources. Private health facilities are commonly located in urban areas and provide care to the relatively affluent. NGOs provide standard health care at acceptable cost and have contributed significantly to bridging the wide gap between government and private sectors.
NGOs can play an important role in cancer control in any country and their activities should be complementary to governmental health care programmes, but unfortunately NGOs are not involved in National Cancer Control Plan (NCCP). Oncology facilities in most of the developing nations are either in overcrowded, under-resourced government funded institutes or within a private system that has western standards but is beyond what the common person can afford. NGOs can help bridge the gap in cancer care.
Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital and Research Centre at Bhopal is an NGO, run by a philanthropic organization with some help from the government. This organization in addition to providing treatment to cancer patients, has actively involved itself in prevention, screening, domiciliary care for terminally ill patients and research. It has screened around 18,500 patients for cancer through 115 free camps, since 1995 and identified 1820 patients with premalignant and malignant conditions. Biopsy was done on 55, FNAC on 280 and Pap smears on 400 patients. Since 1999 it has conducted around 60 cancer awareness campaigns covering all sections of society.
Tobacco Cessation Programmes were started in February, 2002. A team of 8 medical and para-medical people have been involved in disseminating knowledge on tobacco related health hazards to 10,273 persons - including school children - through documentary films, over head projectors, pamphlets, posters, booklets and informational stalls. People with leukoplakia, melanoplakia, erythroplakia or submucosal fibrosis were asked to attend Tobacco Cessation Clinic at hospital. So far, 400 people (367 males and 33 females) have registered in the Tobacco Cessation Clinic. Of the 400, 76 were smokers, 257 chewed tobacco, and 76 were both smokers and tobacco chewers. 10 persons quit tobacco use using meditation and 24 were put on the drug Bupriopion.
In 1996, the institute started a Palliative Care Unit. Domiciliary care started in 2000. Bereavement Services are also available.
NGOs should have an important role in cancer control in any country, because they can provide standard health care at an acceptable cost and can bridge the wide gap between the government and private sectors.
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