MUSCAT: Rev Fr. Alexander Koodarathil, CEO, St Gregorious Mission Hospital, Parumala is a man with a mission and a deadline on his shoulder.
By 2012, when the Malankara Orthodox Church completes a century of its existence under the Catholicate, Asia’s largest cancer care centre costing Rs 100 crore will be launched in Parumala as St Gregorios International Cancer Care Centre.
During his nearly three-week tour to the Sultanate of Oman this month, Fr. Alexander’s missionary exploits were stretched to the full. An exhaustive campaign for funds saw him visiting over 160 resident church members in Muscat.
Fr. Koodarathil was able to create awareness about cancer and palliative care explaining to them about the up-coming world-class cancer care centre, its need, how it will be run when completed and the benefits derived in partaking of its fund campaign.
On his second trip to the Gulf after visiting Kuwait, Fr. Koodarathil elicited spontaneous response to the mega project from members of the Muscat Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church members who magnanimously supported the venture. What came of it was unbelievable. The proposed cancer care centre has received so far Rs 1.5 crore from the Muscat church by way of donations, assurances and sponsorships which will be paid in a period of two years.
The Martha Mariam Samajam in another fine gesture has come forward to sponsor a room at the cancer centre costing Rs 2 lakh. The Samajam members handed over the first installment cheque of Rs 50,000 for the purpose to His Grace Thomas Mar Athanasios, Metropolitan, Chengannur Diocese during his visit on February 12.
Earlier on February 5, in an ‘exclusive’ general body meeting convened by Rev Fr James Geevarghese, vicar and President, it discussed the project, its intricacies on a single point agenda. The meeting resolved to bring about a proposal and include the project under the church’s now popular ‘Thanal’ project over the next two years. The church plans to raise an outlay of Rs 3 crore for the project through which it will sponsor the intensive care unit (ICU).
In return any Muscat Orthodox church member afflicted with cancer stands to get treatment worth Rs 4 lakh provided the patient is recommended by the church managing committee. The modalities of these are being worked out and are in the preliminary stages.
Fr Koodarathil in his speech pointed out the centre will provide treatment for cancer patients at an affordable cost and open new horizons in treating the dreaded disease. He said both the Central and Kerala state governments have been extending all help towards the project.
Fr Koodarathil also explained the need for cancer care and how only about 40,000 cancer patients come forward to register in Kerala hospitals a year. He assured the centre will have the best radiotherapy and clinical facilities.
According to Fr Koodarathil, the proposed cancer centre will have 17 departments, including radiotherapy, nuclear medicine, palliative care and hospice. He said the rate of cancer occurrence in Kerala and in India was much lower, compared to the western countries. But, this could be due to under-diagnosis and under-reporting.
Fr Koodarathil has already visited USA, Singapore and Kuwait on his fund raising campaign tours. The St Thomas Orthodox Church, Al Ahmadi, Kuwait has agreed to sponsor a geriatric ward at the cancer care hospital. It would be run in collaboration with pioneering institutions such as Westchester University in New York, MD Anderson Hospital in Houston and Bailer College of Medicine in Chicago, he added.
Fr Koodarathil profusely thanked Fr James Geevarghese, church committee management and its members for going all out to extend help for the mega project. Fr Koodarathil needs all help as he coordinates work in realizing the dream project of the Malankara Orthodox community.
The foundation stone laying ceremony of the cancer care centre was held on August 24, 2009 by the Supreme head of the Malankara Orthodox Church HH Baselios Marthoma Didymos I at Parumala Hospital. All members of the Holy Synod had attended the function.