Members want better cancer care in M’laya

SHILLONG, Sep 16: Meghalaya is being tagged as the country’s cancer capital with one in every five males and one in every nine females affected by the dreaded disease.
Umroi MLA George B Lyngdoh said this on the last day of the autumn session of the Assembly during the short-duration discussion on the present condition of the health sector in the state. Citing the ICMR-NCDIR’s 2021 report, he said cancer services in the state need to be improved. Shillong Civil Hospital offers cancer care but the disease digs deeper into a patient’s body by the time the reports are made available, he said.
“The reports of the cancer patients are delayed, therefore putting their lives at risk,” Lyngdoh said.
He also flagged the delay in establishing the Shillong Medical College as a dampener for the aspirations of the state’s youths.
“The recruitment of nurses is pending and the roster system has affected the healthcare facilities. The youths who applied are getting restless,” he said.
Recalling Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma’s statement that the government was investing in the health sector, Lyngdoh said the improvement in facilities and services should reach the people in rural areas.
Gambegre MLA Saleng Sangma also expressed concern over the rising cases of cancer and inadequate health services.
Claiming that he often has to organise chemotherapy for the people of his constituency in private hospitals due to the unavailability of radiologists and facilities in government hospitals, he cited the example of a boy who died because of the wait for treatment.
He urged the government to ensure that the hospitals have specialists and adequate equipment to provide cancer care.
The Gambegre MLA felt the Megha Health Insurance Scheme (MHIS) is either flawed or has been “cunningly designed” to benefit the insurance company more than the people who subscribe to it.
He cited a case where only Rs 30,000 was deducted from a bill of Rs 2.5 lakh and asked the state government to re-examine the scheme besides taking steps to check pneumonia among children.
Mookaiaw MLA Nujorki Sungoh said people across the Jaintia Hills region depend on the Ialong Civil Hospital as most of the PHCs and CHCs are not functioning properly due to the shortage of doctors and medical equipment.
The Ialong Civil Hospital is overburdened with patients and many have to sleep in the corridor due to the unavailability of beds, he said. “Make the newly-constructed 100-bed MCH operational at the earliest,” he said.
Sungoh urged the government to take steps to immediately make the ICU at the civil hospital functional and to set up a PHC in the Block I area.
Referring to the sanctioning of many medical colleges by the Centre last year, Nongpoh MLA Mayralborn Syiem asked the government to clarify whether Ri-Bhoi is entitled to a medical college as an aspirational district.
Requesting the government to set up more PHCs and CHCs and also to upgrade the healthcare facilities with an adequate workforce, he asked the government to increase the incentives of the ASHA workers from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000.
Mawphlang MLA Eugeneson Lyngdoh also requested the government to upgrade the Pomlum HC to a CHC and the Mawphlang CHC to a referral unit besides looking into the delay in the supply of medicines to the CHCs and the PHCs. He also highlighted the problem of inadequate testing equipment and the absence of a gynaecologist in most health centres.
Mawlai legislator PT Sawkmie also sought the upgrading of the PHCs to CHCs in his constituency and the equipping of the government hospitals and health centres with proper machinery to conduct an array of tests.
His Mawsynram counterpart HM Shangpliang underscored the need to upgrade the Dangar PHC, which caters to more than 40 border villages, to a CHC and expedite the setting up of sub-centres in three identified locations in his constituency.
Drawing the attention of the House to the drawbacks of the MHIS, he expressed concern over drug addiction and increasing cases of hepatitis C among the youth.
“The treatment is expensive ranging from Rs 60,000 to Rs 1 lakh. The government should include it in the MHIS coverage,” he said.
Shangpliang also pointed out the discrepancies in the coverage of neurosurgery and asked the government to take corrective steps.
Rambrai-Jyrngam MLA Kimfa S Marbaniang emphasised setting up more healthcare facilities in the border villages and a trauma centre in West Khasi Hills immediately. He complained about the non-availability of any doctor in his constituency.
Kharkutta MLA Rupert Momin said all the sub-centres are working in his constituency but the existing ones are too few for the people. He requested the upgrading of the Kharkutta PHC to a CHC.
Chokpot MLA Lazarus Sangma said the mortality rate reflects the poor condition of the health sector in the state. He requested the upgrading of the Chokpot CHC to a 100-bed hospital considering the population besides equipping it with an X-ray machine, blood bank and other facilities.

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