Radiotherapy machines at NICRH out of order

Ensure availability of modern radiation treatment at home

Published : 21 Feb 2023 08:51 PM

It is worrying to note that all the radiotherapy machines at the National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital (NICRH) are out of order. It needs to be mentioned that NICRH provides cancer treatment to maximum number of patients in Bangladesh.  

According to WHO standard, there should be at least 170 cancer centres in the country but there is only 33 including the government and private ones. High cost of treatment, lack of adequate radiation facilities, shortage of skilled manpower, and lack of awareness within the community are the main challenges hindering cancer care in Bangladesh. On top of that, unavailability of trained medical personnel has been an impediment to development of radiation treatment facilities in the country. 

Necessary steps should be taken to

 train medical physicists and 

therapists in order to provide modern 

radiation treatment facilities at home

According to media sources, in Bangladesh around 13-15 lakh people are suffering from the debilitating disease called cancer. Reportedly, around 59 per cent of the deaths in Bangladesh are caused by non-communicable diseases (NCD), 10 per cent of which are caused by cancer.  The National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital (NICRH) statistics suggest that the top 20 causes of death in Bangladesh include four types of cancer – oral, oesophageal, cervical and breast. Experts say that it is very difficult to find out how many cancer patients are receiving treatment around the country, or have gone abroad for treatment, as we do not have a national cancer registry.

In Bangladesh, only a handful of government hospitals and one or two private ones have radiotherapy/oncology departments while others provide only medical oncology service. Therefore, necessary steps should be taken to train medical physicists and therapists in order to provide modern radiation treatment facilities at home.

Cancer is 95 percent curable if it is identified at the primary stage but unfortunately majority of our patients are identified at the advanced stage because of lack of awareness.  Authorities concerned should therefore devise initiatives to make people aware of the cancer. It needs no emphasizing that concerted efforts by the government and private sectors are needed for gradual progress in cancer care management. Also, necessary steps to decrease the treatment cost of cancer. There is a need to create a new or updated cancer control plan supported by accurate data, reliable cancer registries and monitoring and evaluation programmes.