The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Joint venture in cancer care

The oldest oncology department in Asia, at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, is all set to tie up with private healthcare major Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, to provide “the best available medical care” in eastern India.

V. Satyanarayana Reddy, chief executive officer of Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Calcutta, said the group “did not look beyond Medical College and Hospital” since it has the best available facilities in terms of cancer care.

“The proposal has come from our end, as we want our cancer patients to get radiotherapy at the best centre in Calcutta,” said Reddy, adding that Apollo has no immediate plans of putting in place the requisite infrastructure for complete cancer care.

S. Gangopadhyay, head of the department of radiotherapy at Medical College, met health secretary Asim Barman at Writers’ Buildings a few days ago to discuss the proposal.

“He found the prospect of a tie-up very interesting, and we are all waiting for the final nod from the government,” said Gangopadhyay.

Director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee later explained that all the modalities were being worked out before the formal go-ahead is given. “The joint venture in the health sector is definitely a welcome sign and would help improve healthcare in Bengal,” added Chatterjee.

This will be the second private-public partnership following the “mutual agreement” between Westbank Hospital and Nilratan Sirkar Medical College and Hospital, by which cancer patients from the Howrah healthcare centre are taken to the central Calcutta hospital for radiotherapy.

According to the proposed arrangement, after surgery, patients from Apollo Gleneagles Hospital will go to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital for radiotherapy and post-surgical cancer care.

In return, Apollo will pay the government “a reasonable sum” for each patient and will also provide “all kinds of medical expertise” in case of critical cases, whenever required, said Fuat Halim, medical officer in charge of emergency services at Apollo Gleneagles.

“We would like to utilise the existing facilities at the radiotherapy unit of the hospital, which are top class. More than the revenue part, this tie-up will ensure that people get the best possible cancer treatment at Apollo Gleneagles and then at Medical College and Hospital,” Halim said.

Apart from a 3-D cobalt radiotherapy unit, Medical College and Hospital has also received a Rs 1.5-crore grant from the Centre to buy an HDR (high dose rate) brachytherapy machine for the department. The new sophisticated machine will help the hospital treat cancer patients better.

Explaining the benefits of the new machine, the head of the radiotherapy wing said it would guarantee body contact with the patient and ensure that maximum radiation is given to the cancerous cells and the other soft tissues are not affected.

“This will definitely help us provide better cancer care. The proposal for a tie-up with Apollo and the Centre’s grant to buy the new machine and upgrade our facilities have come at the right time,” concluded Gangopadhyay.

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