Tata Memorial to expand in Navi Mumbai
Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel has decided to move a bulk of its operations to its Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC) facility in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai. Five new towers are now underconstruction at ACTREC’s 60-acre campus and they will eventually house among other facilities a 930-bed hospital, a hadron radiation therapy centre and a hostel for patients’ relatives with a capacity to hold 300 families. While the hadron radiation therapy centre will alone cost Rs 450 crore, Tata Memorial authorities on Tuesday declined to share the cost of the entire project with this newspaper, claiming that budgets are still being worked out. The project, which will reduce overburdened Tata Memorial’s load by 50 per cent, is being funded by the Department of Atomic Energy. Tata Memorial treats over 67,000 cancer patients every year and this does not include follow up cases. Tata Memorial opened in 1941 as an 80-bed centre in a single, groundplus-five storey building with an annual budget of Rs 5 lakh. Today, it is one of Asia’s biggest centers for cancer treatment with 700 beds and an annual budget of about Rs 300 crore. Yet, there are unending waiting lists and patients’ relatives struggle to find accommodation in the neighbourhood during treatment, often ending up on footpaths outside the hospital. The number of cancer cases in India has gone up in the past six years by 15.7%. Numbers released by Indian Council of Medical Research’s National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research reveal that 11.5 lakh cancer cases were reported across the country in 2018 and 7.8 lakh people died due to the disease. Initially, Tata Memorial will try and move as many women and children patients as possible to the Navi Mumbai facility. The idea is to turn ACTREC into a complete diagnostictreatment-research facility, senior officials, who did not wish to be identified, said. Over 70 per cent of Tata Memorial patients are treated for free. ACTREC will follow the same model. Dr Rajendra Badwe, director, Tata Memorial Center, said the Parel facility has reached a saturation point. “There is no scope for expansion here. ACTREC will now help us meet the growing demand for quality cancer treatment,” he said. Dr Sudeep Gupta, director, ACTREC, said the new buildings will be ready by 2020. “ACTREC will become a self-sufficient treatment and research facility. All children referred to Tata Memorial will be treated here,” he said. Dr Shripad D Banavali, senior paediatric oncologist, said Tata Memorial treats 2500 cases of paediatric cancer every year. Nearly half of these cases are of blood cancer and the rest of cancerous tumours. “A lot of these children, while undergoing chemo, need admission. But at our Parel facility, we just do not have the space. At ACTREC we will be able to admit more patients, making it possible for us to care for them better. The dedicated ward for children will have counselors and social workers attached to it,” he said.