Background and Context:
Cancer care services have very limited availability in rural and remote areas of India as majority of cancer programs related to treatment, screening and preventive awareness aspects are located in urban centers. The role of voluntary services in rural and semiurban areas provided by cancer care specialists working in tertiary cancer centers is under-explored.
To describe the role of voluntary services provided by clinical specialists with the help of non-governmental organization in collaboration with local health care providers.
A non-governmental organization for cancer care in rural areas was registered. A free cancer clinic providing consultations, screening and counseling for cancer patients was started in collaboration with local community hospitals using the local infrastructure. The specialists working in New Delhi visit once a month on weekend and provide the services on voluntary basis. In every visit one public education activity to increase the awareness about cancer is organized particularly targeting the schools, colleges and health care workers associated with government primary health centers.To minimize the cost, collaborations were made with diagnostic and pharmaceutical agencies to provide services at local level and at lower cost. Since this service was once a month, a telephone helpline working 24 hours and managed by specialists was used to provide consultation and emails were encouraged.
This service was started targeting the population of single district having a population of two millions.The number of volunteers working as intermediaries increased from one to twenty and included school teachers, health care workers and students. Many of the patients have been acting as volunteers and are instrumental in providing awareness education.
Outcomes/What was learned: Clinical screening, consultation, counseling and public education can be provided in rural areas through voluntary services of cancer specialists if they make small groups and target small populations