A government hospital in Mumbai has become the new destination for affordable and advanced radiotherapy facilities for cancer treatment.
The man behind the transformation is Dilip Nikam, Associate Professor and Head of Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology at the Government’s Cama and Albless Hospitals, Grant Govt. Medical College and JJ Group of Hospitals.
“It has been my endeavour to convey to my patients and relatives that in government hospitals too, you can have the state of art machinery and can get the best possible treatment,” 36 year-old Nikam, who hails from Osmanabad district in Marathwada, said.
Nikam said he convinced ‘higher authorities’ in the government for need of better infrastructure for cancer treatment and then 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 claimed.
Advanced radiotherapy techniques like intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), image guided radiotherapy (IGRT), volumetric arc radiotherapy (V-MAT) and Respiratory gating are now available at the Cama and Albless hospitals free of cost under the Rajiv Gandhi Yojana and at minimal cost compared to private hospitals, for others, he said.
Nikam who has worked with Dr S H Advani, a pioneer in medical oncology and Dr B C Goswami, Director, Government Super-speciality Oncology Hospital at Guwahati, said after he joined in 2007 as Registrar, he decided to work for poor and illiterate patients, specially from rural areas, who can’t afford costly treatment.
“In the facility we have created at the Hospital, around 70-80 poor and needy cancer patients are treated daily,” he said.
“Over 20000 patients are registered per year at the OPD counter of our Oncology department,” Nikam added.
“Besides, we have arranged cancer awareness camps and early cancer detection camps in remote areas where facilities are not easily assessable. The camps were held in Beed, Osmanabad, Jammer, Jalgaon, Nagpur, Yevatmal, Solapur, Sendri, Kundhe (Bhiwandi) and Shahapur,” Nikam, who was honoured by Maharashtra Chief Minister for his work, said.
Nikam claimed he has developed a new treatment protocol for painful skeletal metastasis and also diagnosed the rare clinical disease Birt-Hogg-Dubey syndrome clinically.
“With guidance by experts from Europe, I treated the patient successfully,” he added.
Nikam received an appreciation letter from the Additional Chief Secretary, Public Health Department in 2012 after Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations visited Cama and Albless Hospitals and was “very impressed” by the work at the Department and hospital.
“At a time when most doctors are chasing careers with private hospitals for descent earnings, I chose to serve with the government hospital,” added Nikam.