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Pvt Hospitals Add Cancer Care Centres

Times of India
02 September 2010
Mumbai, India

Unlike In The Past, Hosp Management No Longer See Treating Cancer As Financially Unfeasible
If one needed a signal to indicate that cancr acquirier cases are on the rise, here it is: the number of hospitals adding a dedicated cancer centre ong a high–end cancerous cell–busting technology is steadily going up. The thumb rule about more demand creating better supply has never seemed scarier.

On Wednesday, Fortis Hospital in Mulund inaugurated a cancer wing to provide all forms of treatment–medical, surgical and radiation–under one roof. "There was a need for such a comprehensive centre in the eastern suburbs," said Fortis Hospital consultant Dr Boman Dhabar.

Pvt Hospitals Add Cancer Care Centres
A couple of months ago, Jupiter Hospital in neighbouring Thane city opened an economy ward for needy cancer patients. In Andheri, Kokilaben Hospital has been steadily acquiring high–end radiation devices, while Hirananandani Hospital in Powai has announced a tie–up with a group of oncologists. A group of India–born doctors from the Albert Einstien Centre in New York, who want to relocate to India, will provide cancer therapy at the Powai Hospital, which will add a radiation centre next month and a bone marrow transplant centre in December. A 100–bed cancer hospital is coming up in Malad and some of the new hospitals in the western suburbs too are busy upgrading their cancer care.

So, why the spurt in activity? Until a decade ago, cancer care was restricted to the public sector hospitals. One reason is the growing incidence of cancer. "Ten years back, we got 25,000 new registrations every year. Now the number stands at 47,000," said Dr Surendra Shastri of Tata Memorial Hospital. As cancer is a lifestyle disease, the changing patterns of diet and exercise in India could be the cause, say doctors.

According to Dr Sujit Chaterjee, CEO of Hiranandani Hospital, "India has a high population, and any variation translates into huge numbers. So, any change in cancer patterns means huge numbers.

Moreover, main hospitals like Tata Memorial Hospital are feeling the pressure." Vishal Bali, CEO of the Fortis group of Hospitals, cites three reasons for the sudden spurt.

"Until recently, cancer was associated with high mortality rates. But now we have better treatment modalities with better survival rates. So, people don’t mind spending on cancer treatment. Moreover, Indians can afford more now than a decade back," he said. Further, private hospitals have now managed to work out a better viability pattern for cancer care. "Cancer is the most cost–intensive speciality. So, hospitals have to work out special viability modes," added Bali.

However, some like cancer specialist Dr P Jagannath from Lilavati Hospital in Bandra feel that instead of hospitals springing up randomly, there should be a combined approach to combat cancer. "Instead of five hospitals setting up radiation facilities that are cost–intensive, they could instead share one facility. This is more cost–effective for all and, more so, for the patients."

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