Over 176,000 oral cancer patients treated in Sindh hospitals in five years

Updated November 10, 2019

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As the crackdown against sale and manufacture of gutka and mainpuri continues across the province, health authorities have come up with disturbing facts that during the past five years over 176,000 oral cancer patients had been registered with different public and private hospitals throughout Sindh. — Reuters/File
As the crackdown against sale and manufacture of gutka and mainpuri continues across the province, health authorities have come up with disturbing facts that during the past five years over 176,000 oral cancer patients had been registered with different public and private hospitals throughout Sindh. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: As the crackdown against sale and manufacture of gutka and mainpuri continues across the province, health authorities have come up with disturbing facts that during the past five years over 176,000 oral cancer patients had been registered with different public and private hospitals throughout Sindh.

According to a report compiled by the Sindh director general of health on the directives of the Sindh High Court, of the total 176,714 patients, Karachi has the highest number of oral cancer patients registered between 2015 and October 2019.

The report, which mentions some 18 private, public and welfare health facilities run by different non-governmental organisations, did not carry the name and number of patients registered with the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) in the corresponding period.

“The list was compiled by the Sindh directorate of health on the directives of the high court,” said an official citing details and objectives of the recently compiled list. “It carries the names of 18 hospitals across Sindh which treated oral cancer patients during the past five years. The patients were largely infected by injurious gutka and other such substances, which [were consumed] quite commonly in the province before the recent crackdown.”

Karachi has the highest number of oral cancer patients

The Sindh police have recently revved up its campaign against gutka, mainpuri and other such products on the directives of the SHC and within a month they registered 211 cases against manufacturers and sellers of the substances under Section 337-J (causing hurt by means of a poison) of the Pakistan Penal Code, which contains 10-year imprisonment, instead of Sections 269 or 270 of the PPC which carry the maximum sentence of only two-year imprisonment.

An official said selling or manufacturing gutka or other such substances had been made a non-bailable offence and, if proved, could lead to 10-year imprisonment.

He said that of the 211 new cases, which were registered after the fresh SHC order, 85 were registered in different districts of Karachi; 57 in Hyderabad; 65 in Shaheed Benazirabad and four cases were registered in Mirpurkhas under Section 337-J.

The recent report from the health authorities proves that the police crackdown has come better late than never as the injurious substances have played havoc with the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

“The list mentions Dr Ruth Pfau Hospital, previously known as Civil Hospital Karachi, with highest number of oral cancer patients ie 13,142, treated during the past five years,” said the official. “Then came the Larkana Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Radiotherapy (Linar) where 12,676 patients were treated between 2015 and October 2019.”

“Some 163 patients were treated at the Lyari General Hospital; 226 at the Liaquat Medical Hospital Hyderabad; 258 at Peoples Medical Hospital Shaheed Benazirabad; 23 at Khairpur Medical College; 91 at Chandka Medical College Hospital Larkana; 4,086 at Kiran Hospital Karachi; 3,048 at Nimra Cancer Hospital Jamshoro; 2,847 at Norin Hospital Shaheed Benazirabad.

“Total 1,380 patients have been treated at the Dr Ziauddin Hospital Karachi; 1,828 at Aga Khan University Hospital; 3,304 at Bet-ul-Sukoon Hospital Karachi; 212 at Rahat Kada Hospital Karachi; 297 at Almeera Tibbi Hospital Karachi; 175 at Imdad Cancer Foundation Hospital Karachi and 414 oral cancer patients were treated at the Liaquat National Hospital Karachi,” the report added.

Of the total 176,714 registered patients, the official said, 44,046 were those who were admitted at different public and private hospitals. Remaining 132,668 had approached the same health facilities across the province for consultancy or their outpatient departments, he added.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2019