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KP to have free breast cancer treatment

01 April, 2019

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PESHAWAR: The government has, for the first time, included breast cancer in the free treatment programme meant to provide services to 6,000 patients suffering from general and blood cancers in the next three years.

The patients of breast cancer, one of the second commonest types of the disease, will get latest treatment at Hayatabad Medical Complex under a cost sharing formula with Novartis Pharma, which signed a memorandum of understanding with the health department in 2011.

About 40,000 patients have benefited from the programme to get free treatment for various types of blood cancer, costing Rs19 billion, since its launch. The patients included 58 per cent male and 42 per cent female.

The government share in the programme is 10 per cent while 90 per cent comes from the company.

Under the new programme, to be started in June 2019 and will continue till 2022, the drug manufacturer will supply medicines worth Rs24 billion and the government’s expenditure will be Rs2.4 billion. The government has approved a PC-1 of Rs4.9 billion to continue both the programmes and the patients don’t suffer for want of treatment.

“For the first time, breast cancer patients will get effective medicines for one year. The medicines have shown good results in developed countries. We plan to treat 3,000 patients, using the latest way of medication,” Prof Abid Jamil, the director of the project and head of oncology department at Hayatabad Medical Complex, told Dawn.

He said that the programme also included patients’ management relation system to enable the people to contact medics in emergency situations.

“People are coming directly or through referral by district hospitals because awareness regarding cancer has increased due to our seminars and workshops for local doctors across the province. The number of patients coming in initial stage is increasing. Such patients stand good chances of recovery,” said Prof Abid.

He said that the second phase of the programme also covered general cancer patients since 2016. He said that more than 3,000 new patients would be treated in the next three years. He added that so far, about 5,000 patients had received free of cost services regardless of their financial status.

Prof Abid said that all types of treatment were highly expensive. He said that average cost of treatment was about Rs2.5 million. He added that the programme covered the patients requiring lifelong support.

He said that the blood cancer programme initiated by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was also appreciated at a conference in Oxford, UK in September last where participants agreed that it was the first government’s initiative for free treatment of cancer patients. “Our model was discussed to be replicated in the developing countries. Even rich countries cannot offer free cancer treatment despite health insurance,” he added.

Prof Abid said that their model was also replicated in Sindh and Punjab provinces. Gilgit-Baltistan, where people had a lot of difficulties in treatment of the ailment, was also adopting it, he added.

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