Install PET scan machines in all Govt Medical Colleges within 6 months: DB

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Feb 23: Division Bench of State High Court comprising Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Tashi Rabstan today directed the Commissioner/ Secretary, Health and Medical Education Department to take effective steps for installation of PET Scan machine in all the Government Medical Colleges of the State within a period of six months for providing better diagnostic facility to the cancer patients.
This directive was issued in Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Senior Advocate AV Gupta seeking direction to the State to provide basic health facilities for treatment of cancer and also to provide adequate number of Oncologists, Onco-surgeons, PET scan machines and all other experts in the relevant field for the treatment of various types of cancer in all the regions of the State.
Division Bench observed, “the Constitution of India mandates the States to provide facilities of health care”, adding “in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, out of one crore population at least 1% is suffering from one or the other types of cancer. Even though Medical Education Department has established Medical Colleges, no health care facility worth the name for the treatment of cancer is provided and no PET scan machine to diagnose the same has been made available”.
“There are two Medical Colleges in Jammu and one Medical College and a Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences at Srinagar. The basic physician, who diagnosis and treats the cancer patients is known as an Oncologist, who should be qualified MBBS Degree holder with MD in Medicine and thereafter to undergo DM Oncology.  Such qualified person alone can be called as Oncologist but no such qualified person is available in Medical College at Jammu. Even in private Medical College there is no such qualified Oncologist”, the DB further observed.
According to the petitioner, even the Health Minister in April 2013 stated in the Legislative Assembly that at least 56716 patients of cancer were registered with the Oncology Department of Government Medical Colleges, Jammu/Srinagar, besides Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura. The number of patients has been increasing every year and it is crossing over one lakh now. Some of the affluent patients are going to PGI, Chandigarh and AIIMS, New Delhi. Such hospitals are also crowded due to which the patients have to wait for their turn for diagnosis and due to such delay, the disease become terminal and some patients either die or become untreatable. The petitioner also narrated his own tragedy— death of his wife due to lung cancer.
Taking serious note of the matter, Division Bench had on September 10, 2015 directed the Commissioner/Secretary Health and Medical Education Department to file affidavit giving details regarding the faculty and other support staff in the Department of Oncology, the qualification of the faculty, faculty members lacking the requisite qualification as per MCI Rules and Regulations and also as per Rules framed by the State prescribing qualifications for such faculty members, machinery provided in the Department of Oncology and the details of machinery which ought to be provided in the department to make it meaningfully and substantially functional.
Pursuant to these directions, the Secretary, Health and Medical Education Department on December 15, 2015 filed reply mentioning that in Government Medical College, Srinagar, sanctioned faculty members in the Department of Radiation & Oncology is 15, out of which 7 are in position. In Government Medical College, Jammu, sanctioned strength of faculty is 7, out of which 5 are in position.  There are 26 personnel available as supporting staff against the total sanctioned strength of 63 and 37 posts are lying vacant. The vacant posts have been referred to SSB for filling up the same. Senior Radiotherapy Technicians and Medical Physics Technician/Mould Room Technicians having requisite qualification are in place.
In the Medical Oncology Department of GMC, Srinagar, 3 Oncologists are available. In SKIMS, MS General Surgery, DNB, MRCS, Fellowship in Surgical Oncology and UICC, Thoracic Oncosurgery are available in the Department of Medical Oncology. In the Department of Radiation Oncology, MD Radiologists are available.
After hearing Senior Advocate AV Gupta in person whereas Deputy AG Raman Sharma for the State Health Department, the DB observed, “as per Deputy Advocate General, on 16.03.2011 the Government addressed a letter to the Secretary Public Service Commission to select Medical Oncologist but till date no person has been  selected”.
“Cancer patients cannot wait for selection of Oncologist. Their immediate requirement is to get proper diagnose and timely treatment. There are Oncologists in Medical Institutions in Srinagar and till selection is made through Public Service Commission to fill up the posts of Oncologists in Government Medical College, Jammu, a direction is issued to the respondents to send at least one Oncologist on deputation basis to the Government Medical College, Jammu for diagnosing and suggesting treatment to the cancer patients”, the DB said.
“This direction we are issuing in the light of the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which the Government is bound to provide. It is not the case of the respondents that qualified Oncologists are not available in the State of Jammu and Kashmir and even if they are not available it is for the State to get the services of Oncologists from the neighbouring States”, the DB said, adding “this direction shall be complied by the Commissioner/Secretary Health and Medical Education Department within period of two weeks from the date of receipt of this order”.
About PET scan machine, Division Bench directed Commissioner/Secretary Health and Medical Education Department to take effective steps to get PET scan machinery installed in all the Medical Colleges. “The issue is to be taken note of with all seriousness and same shall be provided in all the Government Medical Colleges, where cancer patients are to be treated, within a period of six months”, the DB further directed while disposing of the PIL.


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