The Health Minister has called the National Cancer Institute, the largest public health investment project of Independent India. With 710 beds, 26 Operation Theaters, 15 laboratories for Principal Investigators, a separate Diagnostics Block – the National Cancer Institute is the behemoth of Indian cancer care. At full capacity it will deploy 2700 employees and cater to 10 lac patients per annum. The design of the largest cancer hospital of India brought together India’s best cancer experts for conceptualization and design.
The National Cancer Institute is the state of the art Tertiary Cancer care cum Research Institute, being constructed at the AIIMS Jhajjar campus in an area of 31.2 acres. It is the nodal Institution for all activities related to cancer in the country and will have linkages with all Regional Cancer Centers and other Institutes of India. As India’s premier institute of cancer, its responsible for identifying priority areas for Research & Development carrying out basic and applied research in molecular biology, genomics, proteomics, cancer epidemiology, radiation biology and cancer vaccines. It is also to act as the premier center for development of human resource in various branches of cancer management depending on the needs of our country.
The Objectives of National Cancer Institute are (a) To provide affordable quality tertiary cancer care to cancer patients; (b) To act as the principal agency of the country in the field of oncology; (c) To carry out innovative research and the development of novel interventions to prevent and treat cancer;(d) To undertake clinical trials of newer drugs as well as vaccines; (e) To carry out transnational research and incorporate newly developed techniques in cancer therapy into clinical practice and (f) To create international linkages with major cancer centers for exchanging cancer related information and for establishing exchange programmes for training and education.
The National Cancer Institute will have 710 beds dedicated to treatment of those cancers which are based on research protocols. It will have equipment with latest technology. Research will be conducted in collaboration with other cancer centers. The total personnel deployment for the National Cancer Institute has been projected at 2705. A Project Monitoring Committee under the chairmanship of Health Secretary supervises implementation and a sub-committee chaired by Head National Cancer Institute monitors the day to day progress of the project.
Following Cabinet approval for Rs. 2035 crores, the commencement of civil works took some time. The project commencement necessitated statutory approvals from local authorities. The environmental impact assessment for the National Cancer Institute required approvals from 34 agencies in the Government of Haryana. Subsequent to the Environment Impact Assessment sanctions, civil works for the Institute Block and residential block of the National Cancer Institute were awarded. The stipulated date for completion of works is March 2018 for the Institute Block and August 2018 for the Residential Block. The Machinery and Equipment Procurement will be completed by July 2018.
December 2016 marks one year of commencement of civil works on the National Cancer Institute. The Institute Block of the National Cancer Institute comprises of several buildings namely the hospital and OPD block, Diagnostics block, Administration block, Academics block, Research Hostel for 200 students, and Service block.
The 710 bedded, 8 storey Hospital Block has been divided between Surgical Oncology (200 beds), Medical Oncology (200 beds), Radiation Ocology (120 beds), Palliative Care (40 beds), and the remaining between Nuclear Medicine, Anaesthesia, Emergency, ICU and Day care. Necessary approvals from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Agency were obtained to commence works in the Hospital Block.
The Diagnostics Block comprises of Laboratory space for Microbiology, Central Instrumentation Facility, Haemato-Pathology, Histo-Pathology, Cytopathology, Tumor Immunology and Advanced Diagnostics Centre.
The National Cancer Institute would also have a Research (Basic Sciences) Block with 15 Principal Investigator Laboratories. The Academic Block would have Conference Halls, Auditorium, Office Spaces and the Faculty Cafeteria. The Research Hostel would also have a studio residence for visiting researchers and the Head NCI suite. In addition there would be the Administration Block for Office Space.
The Residential Block comprises of 216 Type III dwelling units, 84 Type IV dwelling units, 56 Type V dwelling units, 16 Type VI dwelling units, a total of 37 dwelling units. In addition a Hostel Block to house 440 nurses, 154 Junior Residents and 46 Senior Residents is being constructed. In 2016, a financial progress of Rs. 171 crores has been achieved. An average labor deployment of 600 per day was witnessed.
The National Cancer Institute attracted a lot of international attention in 2016 with senior faculty visits from the National Cancer Institute of Baltimore and the MD Anderson Cancer Centre Houston to AIIMS. In addition the French Academy of Medicine conducted a workshop in Toulose for a collaboration with the National Cancer Institute of France.
Looking ahead the National Cancer Institute would be amongst the great public Cancer hospitals in the world setting new benchmarks in translational research and patient care. We eagerly look forward to timely completion of works and the project being fully operationalized in 2018.
*Author is a senior civil servant, an IAS officer of 1989 batch, presently serving as Deputy Director Administration, AIIMS New Delhi.
The views expressed in the Article are his personal.