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Work on 19 cancer hospitals from June

Guwahati: The foundation stones for 19 new cancer hospitals in Assam, to be set up jointly by the government and Tata Trusts, will be laid here on June 17.

Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said Tata Trusts chairman Ratan Tata has agreed to attend the foundation stone-laying function.

"According to the MoU signed with Tata Trusts, a joint organisation named Assam Cancer Care Foundation has been set up, which will construct and run the hospitals. The foundation has engaged cancer specialist Tapan Saikia, who will be actively involved with the hospitals. Altogether 13 sites have been identified for the construction of the hospitals," he said.

Sarma said initially Rs 2,000 crore has been allocated, which will be borne equally by the Assam government and Tata Trusts. "We hope the new hospitals will be operational in the next two years," he said.

The cancer hospital at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital will be the only Level 1 hospital to have the most sophisticated treatment and surgery facilities. Barpeta, Diphu, Jorhat, Silchar, Tezpur, Dhubri, Lakhimpur, Nagaon and Dibrugarh will have Level 2 hospitals, having basic treatment facilities and surgeries. The Level 3 hospitals, providing basic treatment facilities like chemotherapy and radio-therapy, will be set up in Darrang, Goalpara, Golghat, Haflong, Karimganj, Kokrajhar, Sivasagar, Tinsukia and Nalbari.

"The hospitals are going to provide much-needed relief and treatment facilities in most of the districts and the patients will no longer have to travel to Guwahati for basic tests and treatment," Sarma said.

The Assam government had in 2016 informed the state Assembly that 90,000 cancer cases were detected in the state in the past five years. Oral cancer is high in the state because of high tobacco consumption.

New dental colleges

Sarma said admission to the two new dental colleges in Dibrugarh and Silchar, with 50 seats each, will begin from next academic session. The Dental Council of India had approved this recently. It will increase the number of seats in dental colleges to 200. The Regional Dental College in Guwahati has 100 seats.

"Students go outside the state or have to pay Rs 40-50 lakh for seats in private hospitals because of shortage of seats. The two colleges will address these problems to a large extent. Besides, there is demand for dentists across the country and so our local boys and girls can find jobs outside the state too. This was one of the announcements in our budget in 2016," Sarma said.

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