Cancer patients suffer as distribution of free medicines suspended.

PESHAWAR -- There is no end to the misery of over 4,000 registered cancer patients in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to a delay by the health department in the signing of a memorandum of understanding with a leading pharmaceutical firm for the renewal of contract to supply medicines to be given away free of charge.

Health officials insisted that the department was in the process of the MoU signing with the Novartis Pharmaceuticals under which Rs1 billion would be spent on distribution of free medicines to cancer patients.

They said the medicine provision to patients would resume in three weeks.

The officials said the 'Free Cancer Treatment of Cancer Patients' project was launched at the oncology department of the Hayatabad Medical Complex, Peshawar, for patients of blood cancer in 2011, while the people registered for it received free medicines on a monthly basis after investigation and examinations.

They added that the programme covered all types of cancers in 2016 with the private pharmaceutical company bearing 90 per cent cost of the programme and health department the rest.

Officials promise resolution of issue in three weeks

The officials said the programme had so far benefited 9,000 patients, including 3,800 suffering from blood cancer, at the cost of Rs35 billion.

They said of the patients, 65 per cent had either recovered or received medicines to 'stay alive with improved lifestyles'.

The officials said the project expired in June this year suspending the provision of free medicines to 4,500 patients. They said the treatment cost over Rs100,000 a month that was unaffordable for most patients.

The officials said the government had merged the HMC's Free Cancer Treatment of Cancer Patients project with the Sehat Card Plus scheme, while regional hospitals were included in it to ensure that patients don't visit Peshawar from their respective districts to obtain free medicines.

They said cancer patients in Bannu, Malakand, Swat and Abbottabad would start receiving free medicines and services in three weeks after the signing of the MoU with the private pharmaceutical firm.

The officials said the government was in the process of the MoU signing for the resumption of the programme.

They said currently, cancer patients received free surgical and chemotherapy services in Peshawar, Abbottabad, Swat, Bannu, Islamabad and Karachi under the SCP.

The officials said the cancer programme-SCP merger would enable...

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