Fate of over 525,000 cancer patients is at extreme risk as 14 cancer hospitals run by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) are facing acute financial crunch, Pink Ribbon Campaign National Coordinator Omer Aftab said on Monday.
According to Omer Aftab, PAEC, under its Nuclear Medicine and Oncology Department, is providing the facilities of diagnosis and treatment of cancer and allied diseases to the patients from all over the country employing nuclear medicine and radiation in 12 cities through 14 hospitals.
“But now as the cancer burden is increasing in Pakistan annually by 10 per cent to 12 per cent, PAEC cancer hospitals are facing immense financial crunch. They are totally dependent on the government funding,” he said.
Dr Omer Aftab, in a statement, said that in total, the financial crunch was calculated at Rs450 million annually of which Rs250 million were needed for operational expenses and over Rs200 million for fulfilling consumables needs for expensive cancer treatment.
He said that last year, 525,000 cancer patients got treatment at PAEC Cancer Hospitals and at the same time, there was a trend of an annual increase of around 15 per cent in patients’ turnout.
“Therefore, the administration of these hospitals is fuddled to meet the financial requirements and agonised to operate to fight with this alarming increase of cancer patients in Pakistan,” he said.
He said that PAEC cancer hospitals were equipped with hi-tech equipment but there was an immediate need for their upgradation for better treatment and research.
He said that the situation had been aggravated due to the recent decentralisation of the federal subjects as the health had become a provincial subject whereas PAEC cancer hospitals were under the federal government.
“We urge the prime minister to take immediate notice of the situation and ensure early release of funds to PAEC cancer hospitals for effective running and upgradation to address the challenge of increasing cancer incidence in the country,” he said.
The National Coordinator of the Pink Ribbon Campaign said that if the government could allocate Rs60.00 million each to 272 MNAs, it should also give the sought-after funds to 14 cancer hospitals to the benefit of the poorest of the poor people of the country.
He asked if Rs2.9 billion could be spent on the construction of Parliamentary Lodges, then why couldn’t money be spent on the upgradation of technology of these hospitals.