Bollywood stalwarts raise money for poor cancer patients

Kolkata: Bollywood veterans like Waheeda Rehman, Sharmila Tagore, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar and Om Puri have come together to raise funds for the treatment of poor cancer patients.

The fundraiser celebrating the 100 years of Indian Cinema, held last evening at the Taj Bengal Hotel here, had the stalwarts recalling lesser known anecdotes from the past while music and dialogues of the times created the aura of every decade.

Organised by the Tata Medical Centre in Kolkata, the unique program was aptly titled, in Bollywood style, `Uff Yoo Maa`.

The Bengali film fraternity was represented by director Aparna Sen, actress Rituparna Sengupta and singer Usha Uthup. Lauding the noble initiative for providing free or subsidised cancer treatment for poor patients, writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar said,

"We can boast of the best hospitals in the world but the health of the common man has never been on the priority list of any state in India".

Akhtar, also a nominated MP in Rajya Sabha, said unhealthy
and unhygienic atmosphere in cities should also be looked after to control the spread of diseases.

Actress Sharmila Tagore said, "When you hear that you have cancer you almost die. The cost of treatment is very expensive as only one session of chemotherapy costs Rs 80,000. Many such sessions are needed".

Actress turned social activist Shabana Azmi pointed out that cancer may not lead to death.

"But for that we need quality treatment. Such a disease in a middle-class family is the road to poverty while for the poor it may lead to bankruptcy," she said.

Geeta Gopalakrishnan, director (Donor Relationships) at the Tata Medical Center, said, "We are working towards creating a corpus for the urgent expansion of the hospital as well as treatment of the under-privileged patients currently in the Centre".

With funds raised from various initiatives like this, they plan to add another 250 beds in existing to 167 beds and upgrade their infrastructure.

Around 50 per cent of the beds are reserved for the underprivileged section at the hospital which began functioning two years ago in Rajarhat.


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