News : Support Just a Call Away for Cancer Patients
Mumbai, June 29, 2014 -- People diagnosed with cancer and their kin are sometimes so overawed by the condition that they do not know whom to approach for advice. While information on financial support and hospitals is easily available, most of the patients and their families have to fend for themselves when it comes to psychological and social aspects of the disease.
Struck by the overburdened patchy counselling facilities on offer, Dr Anand Parihar, a city radiologist, decided to launch a helpline. It gets anywhere between 500 and 800 calls per month. Under the aegis of an NGO, Madat Trust, Parihar has branched out into providing financial support to patients from economically weaker sections at Tata Hospital and investigations at private clinics.
A personal tragedy—the death of his wife, Dr Mandakini Parihar, due to leukemia in 2012—played a major part in the decision to start the initiative. "Last year 25 lakh cancer cases were reported. The number of unreported cases may be much higher. Each patient would have at least four members in the immediate family. We must realize that it takes a toll on many more people, who are indirectly affected," said Parihar.
The call centre is staffed by eight counsellors who try to address questions related to psycho-social issues that a care-giver could face, issues of nutrition and resources for services like cheaper investigations, drugs and financial aid.
Medical experts too feel that counselling services need to be expanded. "Government hospitals have a social work department with counsellers. But there is a need to improve such facilities," said Dr Purna Kurkure, paediatric oncologist at Tata Memorial Hospital.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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