Around 10 cancer patients visit the Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital (BCH) daily for treatment. The hospital authorities say the number of cancer patients has increased by nearly 30 percent this year in comparison to last year.
According to the hospital, the year 2012 saw more than 7,000 cancer patients while the number increased to around 9,000 in 2013. Doctors claim lack of awareness among people about cancer, poor lifestyle and eating habits are the main reasons behind the increasing number of cancer patients.
Currently, the hospital provides services like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery and brachytherapy along with palliative care and pain-management services to cancer patients. The hospital authorities said they receive cancer patients from all over the country, especially from the Capital and the eastern region. Over 300 patients visit the hospital for general check-ups for various diseases, including cancer, on a daily basis. This has led to a strain on resources at the hospital.
“We are not able to provide speedy health services to patients in need due to resource constraints,” said Raja Ram Tajale, administrator at the hospital. Around 15 patients return every day after being unable to get admission owing to the lack of sufficient beds.
The hospital at present has 82 beds and around 50 more beds are required to handle the flow of patients. Dr Gisupnikha Prasiko, senior oncologist, who has been treating cancer patients at the hospital for the past seven years, said cervical and breast cancers are common among females, while mouth, tongue, throat, vocal cord and lung cancers are common among males.
“If only the government could provide radiotherapy and chemotherapy facilities in all the five development regions, we would not be facing so much pressure here,” Dr Prasiko said.
The hospital authorities said that they are not able to manage enough medical equipment to run the facility properly. “We don’t have enough budgets to expand our services and make our services accessible to more patients,” Tajale said. Medical experts concede that despite insufficient funds, the hospital is one of the few hospitals with comparatively better equipments to treat cancer patients in the country after the Chitwan-based BP Koirala Cancer Hospital.
Saraswati Shrestha, 53, who was waiting for her turn for radiotherapy in the hospital, said she came there after Shahid Gangalal Hospital was unable to diagnose her disease correctly. “The hospital could not diagnose my disease correctly and referred me to this hospital. After coming here, I came to know that I have cervical cancer,” she said.
According to the hospital sources, Sindhupalchok district stands out as the most cancer- prone district. “In our record, we get one cancer patient from that district every day,” said Shrestha. Doctors say excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco and cigarette along with lack of awareness among people about the disease are the main factors behind high number of cancer patients in Sindhupalchowk.
The hospital is run by Nepal Cancer Relief Society and is established under public-private partnership with support of government, Rotary International and local community in Bhaktapur.