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Healing Hearts: Dr. Vipul Doshi and Vivek Sharma Unite for Cancer Awareness | UHAPO

Healing Hearts: Dr. Vipul Doshi and Vivek Sharma Unite for Cancer Awareness | UHAPO

Unveiling a Symphony of Hope: Dr. Vipul Doshi and Vivek Sharma Join Forces for Cancer Awareness | UHAPO

Vivek Sharma: My name is Vivek Sharma. I am an author, social worker, and advocate for cancer and mental health. With me today is Dr. Vipul Doshi, who is a doctor from Solapur. Hello, and a very warm welcome to you. When we met, we discussed how advocacy can be built, and how support groups can be created. But when it comes to advocacy, you know it’s quite a lengthy process. You have completed your studies at the premium institute, and when you were practicing, you have seen a significant difference between big cities and small towns. So, you’re already aware of how medical facilities and treatment differ from small towns to big cities.

In big cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Hyderabad, patients have easy access to specialized treatments without having to travel long distances. They often benefit from government schemes, and if such schemes aren’t available, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) step in to assist. However, the real challenge is faced by people in small towns where there might be no local NGOs or government programs. Even if individuals provide support on a personal level, there might not be a proper system in place to address the needs of those in small towns.

Dr. Vipul Doshi: As you mentioned the network of NGOs in cities like Solapur or in slightly peripheral cities is almost zero. The support that patients receive in this region is entirely dependent on government schemes. In Maharashtra, there is Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Yojana, and the majority of patients are dependent on it to get financial support for the necessary treatments and procedures.

Vivek Sharma: Fantastic! You’ve highlighted a good point here. Now, I feel we will have a very interesting conversation ahead. I’m getting a lot of questions in mind. As you provided the information you provided about the Mahatma Phule scheme, I want to know what are its limits? 

Dr. Vipul Doshi: Under the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule scheme, a single patient can receive financial assistance up to 1.5 lakh for a year. This support is available to both types of patients, including those with Ayushman Bharat cards. After the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule scheme comes to an end, patients can continue to receive ample support from Ayushman Bharat.

Do you think that around 1.5 lakh rupees are sufficient for the treatment of diseases like cancer? 

Dr. Vipul Doshi: Obviously, It is not enough for the treatment of diseases like cancer. Consider any form of cancer, and you can estimate the total expenses involved. When I practice in chemotherapy, surgeries, tests, radiotherapy, and scans, the average cost for comprehensive treatment following the standard of care ranges from 2 to 4 lakh rupees for an individual patient which is not covered by these government scheme assistance.

Vivek Sharma: So, regarding access other than the government scheme there is no dependency of medical facilities on a particular organization.While there is some access, it’s not widespread enough to assist a large number of people. If there is any dependence on the government scheme, then we should talk about how to enhance that scheme. What aspects should be added today? What elements are currently missing but should be included to offer improved treatment care?

Dr. Vipul Doshi: On thing is clear that the government has offered assistance through the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule scheme. However, it is important for them to think about extending the treatment coverage to 5 lakh by integrating their scheme into Ayushman Bharat. Nevertheless, the Ayushman Bharat card is not widely held among the public, making not everyone eligible for it.

So, I believe that everyone should have access to the Ayushman card in addition to the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule scheme. Moreover, I’ve observed that the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule scheme covers only common cancer treatments in its package, excluding treatments for rare cancers. Effective treatments are available for these rare cancers as well. Therefore, I suggest the government includes these rare types of cancer treatments in the scheme by revising it every two to three years through package additions.

Vivek Sharma: As you mentioned about these government schemes, they don’t have any diagnostic plan, PET scan, biopsies included in it right doctor?

Dr. Vipul Doshi: Certainly, to put it plainly, essential investigations such as biopsies, Immunohistochemistry, molecular testing, and tests like PET scans are not covered in the testing schemes. In such cases, patients have to bear the expenses themselves. If five out of ten patients encounter these situations, it poses a significant financial burden.

Vivek Sharma: Doctor, I’m curious about your experiences in both Solapur and the periphery areas where you practice. I assume you’ve encountered various cases, from breast cancer to lung cancer here. Could you share how the situations and expectations differ for you in these areas?

Dr. Vipul Doshi: I would say, People in both urban and peripheral areas are experiencing significant stress. The number of cancer patients is rising in peripheral areas too, although there’s a slight increase in health awareness. Previously, individuals would conceal symptoms like mouth ulcers or chest lumps due to societal shame, but there’s a positive shift in this behavior.

Vivek Sharma: As we are having these discussions about the disease identification and raising awareness through our YouTube channel, which is viewed by policymakers, patients, and the public, I would like to emphasize a few points. Firstly, there should be an increase in the limits of our government schemes, and diagnostic tests must be included. Secondly, efforts should be made to boost enrollment in schemes like Ayushman Bharat if it’s currently low. As for cancer awareness, only a few people are informed, and there’s a significant need for improvement. Now, when it comes to treatment access, it’s crucial because once the disease occurs, individuals have to face and manage it. Prevention or early detection can help suppress it.

Dr. Vipul Doshi: Basically, in order to achieve early detection, effective cancer awareness is essential for prevention. In my opinion, awareness campaigns should cover all age groups, from children to adults, men to women, etc. People need basic knowledge about cancer and its symptoms. Targeting specific population groups and promoting awareness through education in schools and colleges can bring this issue into the spotlight.

Awareness is needed to be spread through all available channels. Currently, social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, or Instagram have the widest reach. Using these platforms holds great potential for effective awareness, leading to better prevention and early detection.

Vivek Sharma: Doctor, you’re doing a very good job, and you have our full support. My enterprise as you all know, Uhapo Health Services is providing unwavering support to cancer patients and survivors in every walk of the way, as we are not only an enterprise but also a community for patient and caregivers. And here we try to fulfill all the needs of cancer patients, whether it’s related to awareness, prevention, and care. 

We communicate and help in spreading awareness by providing the right information to the majority of the population. We also provide prostheses, home care services, matrimonial job placement for cancer survivors. We provide 360-degree support to cancer patients and caregivers for home care, molecular diagnostics, and emotional well-being through our well-qualified resources. We would like to reach out to people and change these statistics of Cancer at every level. Thank you so much. For joining us. You are listening to Dr. Vipul Doshi from Solapur with Vivek Sharma, the Social Entrepreneur.

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