State minister for health Zahid Maleque on Tuesday said that the state of cancer treatment in Bangladesh was ‘poor’, which led the government to decide setting up cancer hospitals in eight divisions across the country.
He said that at least 5,000 beds were needed for cancer patients in the country but there were currently only 500 beds for cancer treatment.
Zahid was speaking as chief guest at a seminar on the socio-economic impact of cancer in Bangladesh at BMA auditorium in the capital, organised jointly by Bangladesh Cancer Society and Bangladesh Health Reporters Forum.
‘Non-communicable diseases are increasing in our country and cancer accounts for the second highest cause of NCDs,’ the minister said.
‘But truly speaking, the status of cancer treatment is poor in our country,’ he said.
Zahid said that though the citizens have minimum accessibility of cancer treatment, the existing cancer treatment facilities is centralised to Dhaka.
‘We need at least 5,000 beds for cancer treatment in our country, but there are only 500 beds available and 300 of them are at National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital in Dhaka and 200 at other government and private hospitals,’ he said.
Zahid said the government has planned to install eight cancer hospitals, with 100 beds for each, at all eight divisions to decentralise the facilities.
He said that only well off families can avail early diagnosis of cancer but the people of low economic section have no access to diagnosis though early diagnosis and prompt treatment can cure one-third of the cancer patients.
‘Cancer screening facilities is needed at upazila and district level hospitals and we would ensure that gradually,’ he said.
National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital associate professor of cancer epidemiology Johirul Islam said that there is no data on cancer patients in the country and no registry on cancer patients are made even in half of a century after the independence of Bangladesh.
He said an estimated 200,000 cancer patients added every year in the country and only 50,000 can afford treatment.
Johirul said Bangladesh needed at least 160 cancer treatment centres but in reality, there were only 16 government hospitals and 10 private hospitals that offer cancer treatment.
NICRH director Moarraf Hossain, Bangladesh Cancer Society general secretary SM Abdur Rahman, joint secretary Golam Mohiuddin Faruque, among others, spoke.