The government has taken steps for free supply of 105 cancer drugs to patients through the Kerala Medical Services Corporation from November 1, Minister for Health V.S. Sivakumar has said.

The Minister was distributing a one-time financial aid of the District Cancer Care Society (DCCS) worth Rs.10,000 each to 45 cancer patients here on Saturday.

The proposed free drug project would require Rs.19 crore.

He said the government had taken serious note of the reports that certain medical shops were charging exorbitant price for various cancer drugs, adding that stern action would be taken against this.

Mr. Sivakumar said cancer care centres would be opened at all district hospitals in the State from January 1. Doctors at the district hospitals would be given special training for three months at the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) in Thiruvananthapuram with a view to providing primary cancer care at these centres. The services of experts at the RCC would be extended to the district cancer care centres with the help of telemedicine facility. The Minister said the government would open 35 Karunya Medical Stores in the State soon and these stores would sell drugs at a subsidised price (20 to 90 per cent less than the MRP).

Viral fever

Mr. Sivakumar said the government had taken measures to combat the viral fever spreading in different parts of the State.

The district medical authorities had reported a shortage of 2,000 staff and the government had initiated steps to appoint sufficient staff at various hospitals in the State, he said.

He said the functioning of clinical laboratories at taluk hospitals would be extended to 8 p.m., and the general hospitals would function round-the-clock.

Lauding the functioning of the District Cancer Centre at Kozhencherry, the Minister said that the centre had already been identified as a role model to the rest of the country.

Presiding over the meeting, K. Sivadasan Nair, MLA, said the Rs.1-crore fund of the National Rural Health Mission sanctioned for cancer control programme in the district should be allotted to the Kozhencherry centre.