The ‘Fight Cancer’ initiative is an ambitious programme launched with the vision of transforming the care experience of every cancer patient treated at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Maharagama. The initiative comprising 130 members continue to assist victims of the deadly disease in hopes of raising funds to develop the National Cancer Institute in Maharagama into a primary cancer care institute capable of comprehensive care for each and every patient that comes through its gates.
Cancer is a single word used to refer to over one hundred diverse diseases. With ever increasing studies and treatment methods on diseases that have no cure, the burden cancer poses on caregivers is certainly unimaginable. Being diagnosed with cancer will most certainly have an effect on the mentality of the patient and a more severe impact on caregivers including medical practitioners. The Fight Cancer initiative strives to assist such numerous burdened families as well as the very institute that cares for their ailing family members.
NCI is the leading hospital under the Ministry of Health dedicated to the diagnosis and follow-up treatment of cancer patients. It is the only such hospital in the island which offers both diagnostic facilities necessary for the identification of all types of cancer, and specialised care in surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Their specialized consultants and a staff of over 1000 including nurses, pharmacists, medical physicists, laboratory technicians and minor workers provide healthcare services around the clock to the neediest of patients. Despite their dedicated services however, the hospital is overwhelmed with the increasing number of patients each year. Sources reveal that the number of patients who seek clinical care at the Maharagama hospital falls between 1000 to 1500 per day. While the hospital has a bed strength of 1500, it still struggles to afford treatment to all those who seek the immaculate care provided by the staff.
At the 139th meeting of the Fight Cancer team held this week, founder of Kadhijah Foundation M. S. H. Mohamed which spearheaded efforts to purchase a PET scanner for the hospital voiced the needs of the hospital.
“On March 4, 2015 the fundraiser to purchase the PET scanner for this hospital was launched. Rs. 200 million was raised within three months with over 7000 donors. The PET scanner was a dire need for the Maharagama hospital, as it was the only specialised hospital available to the public. The other cancer units spread around the country are only wards attached to bigger hospitals. Even with such dedicated services available here, there are many shortcomings in the hospital,” he said. When questioned about the progress of the installation of the PET scanner, Mohammed said that all measures were underway to install the machine at the hospital premises. “We have raised Rs. 252 million which was more than the required amount. Because of this the members of our team were encouraged to carry forward with out fundraising efforts to help the hospital obtain more facilities,” he said.
“We have successfully raised enough funds to purchase one important machine for the hospital. Even though the process is delayed it is being implemented. The Ministry of Health initiated construction for a building to house the PET scanner. We expect that a bidder will be selected and we will receive the machine within three to four months,” he added.
According to Mohammed the hospital is also in need of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner instrumental in mapping out treatments once a cancer patient is diagnosed. Doctors often rely on MRI scan imaging results to determine treatments, such as surgery or radiation therapy.
“The hospital currently does not have a MRI scanner. A single MRI scan can cost around Rs. 40,000 when performed at a private hospital. The other hospitals which possess scanners have waiting lists spanning for months. This is the sad reality for most cancer patients around the country. Therefore our next goal is to raise funds to purchase an MRI scanner for the Maharagama hospital,” Mohammed clarified.
The founder of the charity did not fail to mention that there were number of areas in the hospital that needs assistance. “The hospital is only equipped with a CT scanner which has been installed almost 15 years ago. It is outdated and it is only an analog scanner. Modern cancer treatment uses digital CT scanning facilities which are more precise. Therefore, we will also attempt to raise funds for a new CT scanner.” Among the group’s ambitious goals are the establishment of a genetic lab at the hospital and also to provide free lodging for the families of patients at the hospital. The Fight Cancer group insists that their compassionate journey of healing the victims of cancer will not stop and seeks assistance of generous donors to assist them in their noble efforts.