Many times, a government hospital is not the first thing that comes to the mind when someone thinks of quality care. Bureaucratic hassles and apathy are some of the most commonly cited reasons behind this. But are doctors truly helpless in such situations?

‘No’ is the answer if you are to take the example of Dr. Dilip Nikam- the man responsible for transforming a government hospital in Mumbai into a destination for advanced radiotherapy facilities for cancer treatment that’s actually affordable.

Dr. Nikam is the Associate Professor and Head of Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology at the Maharashtra Government’s Cama and Albless Hospitals in Mumbai.

As the 36 year old doctor told the PTI, “ A government hospital in Mumbai has become the new destination for affordable and advanced radiotherapy facilities for cancer treatment.”

Convincing higher-up, setting up a state of the art department

The doctor said that he was able to convince the higher authorities in the government for the need for better infrastructure to treat cancer patients after which he went on to set up a state of the art department for cancer treatment.
“As cancer treatment is becoming more and more expensive day by day, many cancer patients can’t afford treatment at private hospitals. Cancer is treated with multi-modalities including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

“Not many hospitals have radiotherapy facilities due to huge initial investment. In Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane, there is no linear accelerator radiotherapy facility available in government-run hospitals except the Tata Memorial hospital,” he said.
Thanks to the doctor’s zest, advanced radiotherapy techniques like intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), image guided radiotherapy (IGRT), volumetric arc radiotherapy (V-MAT) and Respiratory gating are available for free at the Cama and Albless hospitals under the Rajiv Gandhi Yojana and at minimal prices compared to private hospitals, for others.

Nikam said that since joining as Registrar in 2007, he decided to work for the poor and illiterate patients- especially from rural areas who are unable to afford costly treatment. Nikam has worked with such esteemed personalities as Dr S H Advani, a pioneer in medical oncology and Dr B C Goswami, Director, Government Super-Speciality Oncology Hospital at Guwahati.

In the facility that the doctor and his team have created at the hospital, about 70 to 80 poor and needy cancer patients are treated every day and more than 20,000 patients are registered every year at the OPD counter of the Oncology department.

The doctor and his team have also arranged cancer awareness camps and early cancer detection camps in remote areas where the facilities aren’t easily accessible.

For his work, Nikam has received a letter of appreciation from the Additional Chief Secretary, Public Health Department in 2012. It came after the visit of the then UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon to the Cama and Albless Hospitals. The dignitary was “very impressed” by the work at the Department and the hospital.

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