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A plan to establish screening centres for early detection of breast cancer in seven hospitals across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) has been pending due to red tape.

Official sources told The Express Tribune that the PC-1 of the project was submitted two months ago but its approval has been delayed due to unknown reason.

“The basic aim of the establishment of these screening centres was to provide free of cost screening facilities to the general public in all the seven divisions of the province, namely Peshawar, Bannu, Hazara, DI Khan, Kohat, Mardan and Malakand,” said the official, adding that the provincial government approved an initial fund of Rs1 billion for the project.

“The main purpose was to ensure availability of world class screening facilities completely free of cost in order to ensure that breast cancer is detected early. The installation of state-of-the-art mammography machines was also part of it,” said the official, adding that initially the procurement of machines had been included in the plan but later it was modified.

“Under the new plan the operators for these machines as well as the staff for screening centres has been included in the PC-1 for which a new PC-1 was prepared and submitted,” he maintained.

Now the government has announced it will send the PC-1 to the planning department, causing even further delay in the establishment of these centres.

Sources said that currently only IRNUM Hospital has the screening facility and there are three mammography machines in three hospitals. Under the Atomic Energy Commission of Pakistan five mammography machines are functional too.

“If breast cancer is detected early, around 98 per cent deaths could be avoided. But in the later stage the survival chances are just 27 per cent,” said the official, adding that no divisional hospital in the province has the screening facility despite the fact that these large health facilities should be fully equipped.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2022.

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