Poor people find the treatment of a deadly disease like cancer so costly that they often become landless and destitute.

They fail to purchase even medicine, undergo clinical investigations or get attention from specialist doctors only because of their poverty, said speakers at a discussion on Saturday.

The Bangladesh Cancer Foundation Hospital organised the discussion on ‘Cancer treatment and people’s expectations’ at a hotel in the capital.

‘Discussion on the deadly cancer ailments may benefit the common people who are deprived of treatment,’ said Mahbubul Alam, former adviser to the caretaker government. He underscored the need for introducing a ‘health insurance’ scheme in the country to enable the poor to pay for the costly treatment of dangerous diseases.

‘Our neighbouring country India has already introduced medical insurance from which many people are getting benefits. Bangladesh is a people’s republic, so we should do that which is beneficial to the people by introducing medical insurance,’ said Mahbubul Alam, editor of The Independent. He also urged the rich people to stand beside the poor.

The discussion was chaired by Dr Habibullah Talukdar Ruskin, secretary-general of the Bangladesh Cancer Foundation, and urologist MA Salam, former director-general of the Directorate of Health Services Dr Syeda Badrun Nahar, and bureau chief of the Associated Press Farid Hossain were among the discussants.

BCFH is a non-government endeavour to fight cancer. The organisation, a non-profit venture, tries to run a cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment programme for the poor.

‘A vigorous campaign is imperative to make the public aware of the risk of cancer. Such a campaign can play a significant role in preventing this deadly disease,’ said Professor Salam.

According to an estimate, around 13 to 15 lakh people have been stricken by cancer and about two lakh new patients are attacked by the disease annually.

Source: The Daily Commercial Times