By Ujjal Mehedi, Prothom Alo
“I didn’t come here on my own accord. They visited me at home and had me brought here.” said Afsana Khatun, 40, sitting in the waiting room of the hospital. She was recently diagnosed with a tumor on her left elbow. This is quite an uncommon scene. While most people are usually deprived of medical services, medical teams from this particular hospital actually visit homes to track down patients and bring them here for treatment. The hospital’s field workers had to convince Afsana’s conservative family to bring her to the hospital. She only came after her husband visited the hospital first and gave his approval. Afsana is not the only one who now avails free medical services here. There were nine other women, including two new mothers, also in the waiting room. They all came to the hospital with the help of the hospital’s field workers. ‘Londoni Hospital’ This is Biyanibazar Cancer and General Hospital, locally known as the “Londoni Hospital.” It is a private entity set up by Bangladeshi expatriates living in London. These people are colloquially termed “Londoni” (the ones living in London) and hence the hospital’s name. The hospital authorities said they carried out an eight-month door-to-door campaign in March last year. A 40-member team has been formed to ensure the success of the mission. Its primary aim was to raise awareness about cancer. The medical officials identified 431 people in the area and diagnosed them with tumors. Of them, 60 percent were women. Additional manager of the hospital, Fatema-tuz-Zohara monitored the field workers. “A group of three or four staff members collect data about the people. They have visited 15,747 households so far,” she said. Field worker Ima Begum said they have been teaching people about seven symptoms of cancer. “If more than one symptom was detected in a person, he or she was examined immediately,” she said. According to the authorities, 119 patients have been diagnosed with cancer so far. Their ages range from 45 to 65. Of them, 71 were women. Women mostly had breast and uterine cancer while men were diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, esophagus, liver and blood.
The hospital’s warden Sajibur Rahman said most of the cancer patients were unaware of their disease.
Another 1,052 women have also been selected for the screen test. “The women will be given diagnostic services free of charge,” Dr. Mohiuddin, adviser to the hospital, said. Nurun Nahar, 65, a resident of Borolekha village, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has already undergone chemotherapy. She said, “I could not tell whether I was at a hospital or in London. The doctors and nurses were so good, you couldn’t tell the difference.”