500 Pourakarmikas Attend Health Camp; 80 found suffering from Cancer Symptoms

Bengaluru: About 16% of the 500 pourakarmikas, hired by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to clean the streets across the City, suffer from cancer symptoms. This shocking figure came to light during the recently-held screening camp, organised by the State-run Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology.

Of the 500 pourakarmikas, the health camp detected 80 sanitation workers with various symptoms of cancer. “The hospital plans to subject these workers into further tests to understand the manifestation of the disease,” The Hindu newspaper said, quoting Kidwai Director C. Ramachandra.

He was addressing reporters on Thursday last, which also marks the National Cancer Awareness Day. “Awareness regarding cancer is low among the pourakarmikas. We have tied up with the BBMP and will conduct such camps across the City. Women are also being trained in self-breast and oral examination,” the director said.

As a separate measure, the hospital plans to set up a psycho-oncology unit to cater to the psychiatric needs of the oncology patients as they tend to slip into depression due to the common perception that cancer is a deadly and non-curable disease.

Various reports show that the BBMP’s health department conducts health camps regularly but the activists have been calling it a mere eyewash as it’s not organised efficiently. There are nearly 30,000 pourakarmikas in the City.

A 2018 news article, published in Deccan Herald, stated that a screening camp in Mahadevapura had detected anemia and skin diseases among a large number of pourakarmikas and health workers. The camp, organised by Sakra Hospital, found 80% of the women were suffering from anemia. Most of the workers were pale and underweight as they did not have a balanced meal and lacked nutritious food.