On this World Cancer Day when developed and developing societies are working on different facets of the killer disease, the terminally sick patients in Kashmir are just seeking availability of the pain killer. If not detected well in advance and treated, the disease recurs and in fatal in most of the cases and Kashmir has epidemic like abundance.
“If it recurs, there are not many options,” a doctor who is treating some of the patients said. “The only thing is to make their death painless.” This, he said, gives a bit of dignity to the human beings suffering from this terminal sickness.
For the last week, interestingly, the main pain-killer being advised by the doctors at SKIMS is getting out of stock. “We were getting two ampoules of a pain killer every two days,” attendant of a patient suffering from an advanced stage cancer said. “They have flatly refused saying they can’t provide it any more because they have not much stock.”
Given the restrictions and a different licensing system that oversees marketing of these drugs, chemists do not sell these products. “It is laborious and time consuming,” one chemist who earlier had a license said. “I am not importing these drugs because it is a hectic process.”
The only other option in the private sector is Dr Shad Salim’s cancer clinic. A senior consulting oncologist, he runs a hospital in Sopore as well. “We have the license but we do not have huge stocks,” one official said. “The depletion of SKIMS stock has added load on us.”
This has created a situation that the cancer patients in a number of cases are actually in excruciating pain and the families are unable to manage them. Given the fact that when a particular pain killer is being given to the patients, they become used to it and other options do not help. In certain cases, the painkiller in the tablet form does not help because the patients are not in a position to process the same.
Kashmir is witnessing epidemic like cancer situation for the last few years. Though cancer patients are being treated at SMHS and SKIMS, there are a lot of other private facilities where patients are taken care of within and outside the state.
Registrations at the SKIMS run Regional Cancer Centre suggest that the number of new patients is increasing. There were 2968 new cases registered by the RCC in 2009 which fell to 2630 in 2010 and then started spiraling up. There were 3057 new cases registered at RCC in 2011 and 3288 in 2012.
The hospitals seem not to be having enough of space and infrastructure to manage the malady. In SKIMS, for instance, there was small ward at the ground floor to tackle the chemotherapy and given the massive load it was taking place in three sessions. Recently, the same facility was shifted to floor one that lacks a separate lift facility. Patients with no energy left are being physically taken to the first floor and it is adding to the indignities. On this World Cancer Day, patients hope the policy makers start understand their problems.
But can Kashmir manage pain-killer stocks in SKIMS?