While care facilities for the large number of cancer patients in the country are severely inadequate, Rajshahi Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, the lone cancer care facility in Rajshahi division, is sitting idle with no cancer patients to avail treatment. As this daily reported on June 12, this four-storey specialised hospital has 45 beds which mostly remain empty while all its modern machines remain unused. And according to the hospital records, last year, the hospital treated over 8,000 diabetes patients while only 146 cancer patients were treated there. This is because the hospital does not have adequate number of specialised doctors, oncologists and other staff to provide cancer care to the patients. How can a cancer hospital run with only eight part-time doctors and without any permanent oncologist?
According to the World Health Organization, Bangladesh has more than 15 lakh cancer patients, with about two lakh new cases detected every year. And according to Cancer Awareness Foundation Bangladesh, there are only 37 cancer hospitals in the country. This means that for a large number of people, cancer treatment is still inaccessible.
Amid such a situation, keeping the Rajshahi hospital underutilised means depriving patients who are in desperate need of care. If run properly, this “non-profit” hospital could have made a difference by providing treatment to poor patients at an affordable price. It remains a mystery as to why after 12 years of its completion, the hospital could not hire full-time specialised doctors. Such sheer waste of money and other resources is unacceptable. The hospital authorities should be transparent about how its annual budget is used and follow the guidelines of the government in carrying out their activities. The government should also intervene to make this facility fully functional.