Death rate high in Bangladesh due to inadequate treatment facilities, 13 doctors pass FCPS, MCPS in radiation oncology in two years
About 1.08 lakh people die of cancer and 1.5 lakh people develop cancer in Bangladesh every year, according to a new report of International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organisation.
The cancer agency released the report on estimated global cancer burden on September 12.
Experts said that the death rate among cancer patients was high because of inadequate treatment facilities and lack of specialist doctors and only 13 doctors passed FCPS and MCPS on radiation oncology in the past two years
Health minister Mohammad Nasim told New Age on Friday that the number of cancer patients was increasing in Bangladesh as elsewhere across the globe, but the government had taken it seriously.
‘We have taken the cancer treatment issue seriously and some programmes would be seen in near future,’ he said.
The minister said that the National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital would be modernised and expanded and a country has expressed their willingness to fund the scheme.
He said that cancer hospitals would be set up in all the divisions to decentralise the treatment facilities.
According to the report, oesophagus cancer, a cancer in the food tract, tops the list of the types of cancer followed by cavity lip and oral cavity cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and cervix uteri cancer amongst the most common cancers in Bangladesh.
The report said that there were 83,715 male and 67,066 female cancer patients.
The female patients mostly suffer from breast cancer followed by cervix uteri, oesophagus, gallbladder and lip and oral cavity cancer
Oesophagus tops the list of cancers for male in Bangladesh followed by lung, lip and oral cavity, hypopharynx (throat besind and behind the larynx) and stomach cancers.
National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital head of cancer epidemiology Habibullah Talukder Ruskin said that new findings showed that the cancer patients were on the rise in Bangladesh.
He said that increased habit of taking tobacco, alcohol, arsenic contaminated food and water, high animal protein and high fat, contact of radiation and ultra violate ray, early marriage of girls, multiple sex partners and lack of personal hygiene and physical activity were the major reasons for the rise in the number cancer patients.
Habibullah said that the women cancer patients were increasing because of their increased trend of smoking and taking smokeless tobacco like jarda and gul.
He said that cancer casualty was high in Bangladesh
as about 90 per cent patients report it at the last stage.
If detected early, cancer can be cured and that too at a minimum cost, he said.
Another problem is the lack of treatment facilities, he said.
There are only a few cancer hospitals and inadequate number of doctors for cancer treatment that too mostly in Dhaka, he added.
State minister for health Zahid Maleque at a function in Dhaka on July 17 said that the state of cancer treatment in Bangladesh was ‘poor’.
He said that the incidence of non-communicable diseases was increasing in the country with cancer causing second highest number of deaths.
Bangladesh needs at least 5,000 hospital beds for cancer patients but now the country has only 500 beds, he said.
There are only nine government hospitals to treat cancer in Bangladesh — two in Dhaka and one each in Chittagong, Rajshahi, Bogra, Barisal, Mymensingh, Rangpur and Sylhet — but most of the hospitals have no full-fledged department.
Though majority of the cancer patients take treatment from medical oncology, the medical oncology department is available only at National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital and Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital in Dhaka, officials said.
Adequate doctors are not being produced for cancer treatment in Bangladesh, Habibullah said.
In between 2015 and 2016, no doctors passed FCPS and MCPS in any discipline of oncology but 13 in radiotherapy, according to National Health Bulletin 2017, published in January 2018.
Medical oncology doctors provide treatments like chemo therapy and other medication before the patients requiring surgery or radiation therapy.
National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital medical oncology department admits four students every year for post-graduation study, but a student completes his or her graduation in five years, officials said.
Other departments like surgical oncology, gynaecology oncology and paediatric oncology departments also have similar number of seats for students who completed MBBS, they said.
Habibullah said that the patients in Bangladesh could not afford the cancer treatment and waited for ending of the life.
‘Those who cannot come to NICRH or cannot go abroad, they rely on homeopathy and Ayurveda treatments, only to wait for death,’ he said.
Directorate General of Health Services officials said that the government was now much focused on cancer treatment, but Bangladesh lacked experts and infrastructures badly.
They said that they were sceptic about the government decision to set up cancer hospitals at all the divisions as there were not adequate cancer doctors.
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