Dispur has decided to provide free treatment to children below 12 years who are suffering from blood cancer or leukaemia.
Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today said Dispur was working on the project and hoped to launch it on Independence Day.
He told this correspondent that considering the huge cost of treatment for leukaemia, the government was also considering free treatment for adults below poverty line and subsidised rates for those above poverty line.
Sarma said many children suffering from the disease die as their parents cannot afford the treatment. Among children suffering from cancer, more than 20 per cent have leukaemia, a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterised by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells.
“The health department is calculating the total cost of treating leukaemia. The initial estimate is Rs 12-15 lakh. Under the scheme, children suffering from the disease will undergo treatment in leading hospitals of the country and the government will bear the entire expense,” he added.
The minister announced the scheme during a function organised at Gauhati Medical College & Hospital, which is sending the third batch of children suffering from congenital heart disease to Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore, for free treatment.
Sarma said 315 children with congenital heart disease would undergo surgery at Narayana Hrudayalaya within two months. Six of them left for Bangalore today. The entire cost of surgery and medicines will be borne by the state government.
Assam has a considerable number of children with congenital heart disease, particularly in districts in turmoil, Sarma said, adding that the scheme launched in 2010 was gaining popularity with more parents bringing their children to the screening camps held at GMCH.
“So far 530 children have successfully undergone surgery at Narayana Hrudayalaya. We have started sending another batch of 315 children to Bangalore from today. The government hopes that in the coming years the number of children suffering from congenital heart disease will be minimal,” he said.
Welcoming the government’s leukaemia scheme, Chidananda Bhuyan, medical oncologist at B. Borooah Cancer Institute here, said it would bring smiles to many parents. The BBCI receives around 200 children with cancer every year, of whom 20 per cent suffer from leukaemia, he said. “The cause of most leukaemia cases among children is genetic. Constant family and financial support is crucial for treatment and survival chances depend on it. I believe the government scheme will ensure family support,” Bhuyan said.