CM chairs meeting about treatment of cancer patients

Peshawar: KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has given administrative approval to the free cancer treatment Programme for another three years under which 450 patients would get full diagnostic and cure facilities in the province. Under the program government sanctioned Rs.600 million to start second phase of the programme “Treatment of Poor Blood Cancer Patients”. He also approved a new drug to make the free cancer treatment Programme more effective.

It was decided in a meeting chaired by the Pervez Khattak at Chief Minister Secretariat Peshawar. It besides the Senior Minister for Health Shahram Khan Tarakai and Minister for Excise & Taxation Mian Jamshedudin Kakakhel was attended by Secretary Health Dr. Aftab Akbar Durrani, Principal Secretary to CM Mohammad Ishfaq Khan, Prof Abid Jameel, and head of the oncology ward at Hayatabad Medical Complex and other concerned authorities of health department. The meeting took stock of the situation of the chronic ailment and took a number of decisions in this regard to cure and prevention of the disease in the province.

Pervez Khattak asked the officials to be alive and responsive how to stop the spread of diseases in the society and besides the health department, all the institutions have to contribute to provide healthy and tension free environment to the people. Similarly he hoped that the people would strictly abide by the principles of simplicity envisaged in our true religion Islam.

He further expressed the confidence that completion of Shaukat Khanam Memorial Cancer Hospital in Hayatabad would usher in milestone era for cure, prevention and research facilities about this fatal disease to nip it from the bud in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He also asked for rejuvenating the programme of free treatment of hepatitis patients that would be available in all major hospitals under a set procedure. The health authorities told that the programme has been started in all big hospitals of Peshawar that would be then expanded to all over the province as soon as possible as per instructions of the Chief Minister.

It is worth mentioning that under the previous phase of this first ever free cancer treatment programme in the country, the health authorities provided single drug oral medication to patients but it was not effective to a desired level as about 20 to 25 per cent patients didn’t respond. Hence following the special directives of Chief Minister, now the govt has included another drug that will increase cure rate to 80-85 percent.

The health authorities assured the meeting that they would give the first drug to the patients to see its response. They told that after clinical and diagnostically examinations, we will add the second drugs if patients have resistance to the first one. Now the health department has an option to provide the best available treatment to the patients.

The Chief Minister directed the health department to treat patients on first come first serve basis as per need of the justice because the treatment is so costly and people couldn’t afford it. The expenditures of treatment for a single patient was from Rs.1.5 million to Rs.3 million for at least three consecutive years owing to which the patient left their treatment incomplete. The course of treatment regime could last for eight years.

Therefore, no one will be denied free treatment. The meeting was told that Switzerland-based pharmacy, with which the govt signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), would supply two types of tablets on inauguration of the second phase of the programme in the last week of November. The province registered 20 to 25 blood cancer patients every month but all of them couldn’t afford the expensive medication.

Chief Minister said that his govt would further extend the programme upon its completion as he said 60 to 70 percent of the blood cancer patients were in age group of 35 to 40 years, the most productive period of life, and non-availability of free treatment could kill them. The govt also dispatched letters to the district headquarters hospitals in the province to refer blood cancer patients for free treatment. Besides treatment, the health officials were also directed to visiting different districts to scale up awareness level regarding preventable cancers like skin, lungs and liver etc. They assured that from December, they have planned awareness sessions of doctors and patients. We will visit one district every month to inform people about causes and diagnostics of cancer.

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