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Cancer and renal patients leave for India

Nthatuoa Koeshe

THE first batch of cancer and renal patients are scheduled to depart today for India where they will undergo treatment at the Apollo Group of Hospitals in the Asian country.

Deputy Minister of Health, Manthabiseng Phohleli announced this at a recent press conference in Maseru.

The patients’ medical trip follows a visit to Lesotho by a team of Indian doctors from Apollo Hospitals who assessed and treated patients in April this year.

The April tour was part of the 2016 agreement between India and Lesotho for regular exchange trips that will help Lesotho in the treatment of cancer and renal diseases.

Apollo Hospitals houses India’s leading specialist medical facilities with more than 5000 doctors that offer high quality healthcare.

Ms Phohleli said the government would pay the costs for the eight patients who will travel with some local doctors. The local doctors will enrol into an internship programme that will enable them to acquire skills from their Indian counterparts.

“The internship is aimed at improving health services in Lesotho so that in future those health services will be accessed locally,” Ms Phohleli said.

In April this year, the Ministry of Health’s director general, Nyane Letsie, told this publication that the Indian doctors had identified 100 patients who needed urgent treatment in India.

“We realised that it was time we prioritised cancer as we have lost many lives. What is worrying is that patients who book for treatment in Bloemfontein are made to wait for months before being taken in as the hospital prioritises the treatment of South Africans.

“Cancer is unforgiving and does not give anyone time to wait for admission. It continues to spread and some people do not survive long enough to be treated so the partnership with Apollo Hospitals will make it possible for us to take our cancer patients to India,” Dr Letsie said.

He also said that treatment in India was significantly cheaper than in South Africa.

“A kidney transplant costs M200 000 in India while it costs anything from M750 000 to M800 000 in Bloemfontein,” Dr Letsie said.

Dr Letsie said the partnership with India would help to strengthen the capacity and infrastructure of local health facilities. He added that the local doctors would be trained for at least three years before they can treat patients on their own.

The Minister of Health, Nkaku Kabi, said plans were underway for Lesotho to establish its own cancer centre. He said work would begin later this month after the 22 July 2018 conference on cancer that will be hosted by the First Lady, Maesaiah Thabane.

Three former United States first ladies Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama are expected to attend along with their husbands, Bill Clinton, George Walker Bush and Barrack Obama respectively.

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