Minister Sunil Kumar Inaugurates State-of-art Zulekha Yenepoya Institute of Oncology

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Minister Sunil Kumar Inaugurates State-of-art Zulekha Yenepoya Institute of Oncology

Mangaluru: Minister of Kannada and Culture, and Energy Department of Karnataka and also district minister in charge of DK, Sunil Kumar inaugurated the state-of-the-art Zulekha Yenepoya Institute of Oncology at the Yenepoya Campus (deemed to be university), Derlakatte here on June 11.

Minister Sunil Kumar inaugurated the Zulekha Yenepoya Institute of Oncology by cutting the ribbon and unveiling the plaque along with the CEO of Tata Trusts Mumbai, Srinath N; Chancellor Yenepoya Abdulla Kunhi; MLA U T Khader; MLA Rajesh Naik; MLA Dr Y Bharath Shetty and Registrar Dr K S Gangadhara Somayaji.

After the inauguration, a stage programme was held in the auditorium. The programme began with an invocation. Registrar Dr K S Gangadhara Somayaji welcomed the gathering.

In his introductory remarks, Vice-Chancellor of Yenepoya Dr M Vijaykumar said, “It is a special day for me and Yenepoya because today our dream has turned into a reality. When I took over as the vice-chancellor, I saw the need for a comprehensive cancer facility and hence we started our work in January 2016 for a cancer centre. Since then, Yenepoya Medical College has been a functioning 1100 bedded hospital with a cancer centre attached to it. Tata Trusts has supported the institute with a one-time “grant-in-aid” in establishing the Comprehensive Cancer Care Centre in the medical college hospital. The building has 6 floors and a built-in area of about 36,000 sq ft. The centre houses two Radiotherapy bunkers and one Brachytherapy bunker. A TrueBeam Radiotherapy machine and Brachytherapy machine with necessary accessories have been installed and commissioned.”

Dr M Vijaykumar further said, “Tata Trusts has been a pioneer in the field of cancer care since the 1940s and their slogan is “Cancer Free India”. The trust is engaged in education and research in oncology to improve treatment modalities and provide access to affordable methods of treatment. When I first approached Tata Trust to open an Oncology department in Yenepoya, they wholeheartedly agreed and signed an MoU in 2018. Due to COVID-19, we were unable to start early. In Karnataka, apart from Bengaluru, this is the first Institute of Oncology. When I shared the joy with our Chancellor, he was very happy and said that he wanted to name it after his mother because our chancellor’s mother died of cancer in 1994. Today the dream of our Chancellor, naming the Institute of Oncology after his mother Zulekha Yenepoya has been realized. I would like to thank our Chancellor for allowing me to connect with the Tata Trust. I thank the CEO of Tata Trusts Srinath and Dr Sanjeev Chopra for making this dream into reality.”

Addressing the gathering, Minister Sunil Kumar said, “In the history of DK, this is a historic day because Tata Trust has supported the institute with a one-time grant-in-aid in establishing a Comprehensive Cancer Care Centre in the medical college hospital. DK district is known as the education and medical hub, and people come to Mangaluru for treatment because education and medical treatment in Mangaluru are very good. After Bengaluru, Yenepoya has the facilities to treat cancer. Cancer should be detected in the early stages. I congratulate Yenepoya and the Tata Trusts for their initiative, and hope the people of Dakshina Kannada will benefit a lot from the Zulekha Yenepoya Institute of Oncology.”

Addressing the gathering, Chief Executive Officer at Tata Trusts Srinath N, said, “I am very pleased that this facility, which we believe can be very important to the medical infrastructure in the region, is being dedicated and made available to the public from today. It represents a very important part of our attempts in the Tata Trusts, as was explained by the Vice-Chancellor of Yenepoya University, to address the larger issues of cancer care in this country.”

Srinath further said, “The basic programmes started by addressing three basic issues we had identified. There are a lot of misconceptions about cancer. People generally fear cancer and believe that if you get cancer, the chances of survival are less. Consequently, the detection and screening rate in our country is very poor. For many people, cancer is detected at a point in time when it is very difficult to treat, and the chances of success are very poor. 70% of cancer cases in our population are detected during stage 3 or 4, and at this point, it becomes difficult to treat people. Late detection is one of the major problems that we are trying to solve. The availability of treatment facilities nearer to the public is also important because the treatment takes place over a long period. It takes months to be treated, and people have to travel great distances sometimes to get to the centre, which often causes a lot of financial and emotional hardship that they are not able to take. The lack of adequate infrastructure for treatment was another problem that we found. There is also the problem of affordability of cancer care treatment due to how expensive it can get as you might have to go and live in a different city with your entire family for two or three months during treatment. There is a loss of livelihood and loss of opportunity, so the financial stress is something we are trying to address”.

He also said, “The Tata Trusts was established in 1941 when setting up the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. This was followed up in 2011 when we set up the Tata medical centre in Kolkatta. We realized that despite these attempts, there is substantial demand for quality cancer care infrastructure around the country. In 2016-17, we came up with the distributor cancer care model, and the basic hypothesis was that you do not always need a hospital for basic cancer care like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In the last several years, as part of our programme today, we are either creating new or helping to upgrade over 20 cancer facilities in the country”.

While concluding, Srinath said, “I would like to congratulate the Yenepoya Trust and thank them for this initiative to create this capability for the region and the people, and we are happy to partner with you in this initiative. I would like to leave a message to the staff and members of the newly inaugurated Zulekha Yenepoya Oncology department. Our work is over, and we got you into the system. But ultimately, the quality of care is in your hands. I want to leave this message for every member of the Yenepoya family, especially those who work in this institute of technology: the button has been passed to you, the work has just begun and your patients are going to come in with a lot of emotional and financial stress and difficulties. They need you to be sensitive and helpful. We can build the infrastructure. We can put teams in place. But ultimately, it is you – the doctors, nurses, paramedics and technicians – who have to provide the ultimate care to the patients. The patients need support and service from you. I would earnestly call upon every one of you to serve the people of the state to the best of your abilities, in keeping the spirit that the Yenepoya and the Tata Trusts have come together to build this facility for the people of this state”.

MLA U T Khader speaking on the occasion said, “First of all, I would like to thank Tata Trusts for supporting Yenepoya University to start this Comprehensive Cancer Care Centre. According to WHO, after 20 years, 2 out of 3 people will suffer from cancer. We have the responsibility to stop cancer and for that, we need to stop consuming instant food. Nowadays we don’t have time and depend on instant food. Whenever we feel hungry we prepare instant food or go to the hotels to have buffets. We have the habit of instant gratification. We need to think about our health and avoid such junk food. I also urge the Minister to add health-related lessons in the textbooks.”

Yenepoya Abdulla Kunhi delivered the presidential address and said, “First and foremost, I would like to thank the Almighty God for the successful launching of this project. I am extremely happy that Tata Trusts sanctioned this one-time grant in establishing the Comprehensive Cancer Care Centre. I wanted to name this hospital after my mother Zulekha whom we lost in 1994. She was treated in the renowned Tata Cancer Centre Mumbai. Ever since I aspired to establish a cancer centre in Mangaluru for the benefit of the people of this region and the neighbouring areas. Fortunately today thanks to the magnanimity of Tata Trusts, I have been able to fulfil my vision. On behalf of Yenepoya, I express my gratitude to Rathan Tata and the group for their support. I also thank Dr Sanjeev Chopra for making this venture a huge success.”

HOD of the Oncology department Jalaluddin Akbar delivered the vote of thanks.  Former Minister Ramanath Rai, MLA Pratap Simha Nayak, Abdullah Kutti, Pro-Chancellor Farhaad Yenepoya, MLCs Harish Kumar and Manjunath Bhandary, MLAs Dr Bharath Shetty, Rajesh Naik, and Umanath Kotian were also present.

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