Care measures for rising cancer cases in India: Health Ministry
With the number of cancer cases in India set to explode in the coming decade, the Narendra Modi government is planning a network of tertiary care centres for cancer patients across the country besides launching a major screening campaign.
According to government figures, India every year registers 2.8 million cancer cases. There is an increase of 1.1 million every year and the number of deaths is half a million.
“The key is in prevention. All stakeholders must work towards prevention and early detection,” Anshu Prakash, joint secretary in the union health ministry, said.
Anshu Prakash, who is in-charge of the ministry’s department dealing with cancer, said the central government is planning to scale up the tertiary care system for cancer care by setting up 20 such centres across the country.
“There are a total of 36 states, but some states are very small. So some of them do not need full-fledged institutes,” he said.
Anshu Prakash said the centres would not be set up in places like Delhi and Chandigarh, which already have super-specialty
institutions like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI).
“In families affected by cancer, there is a lot of dislocation. When a person has cancer, people have to travel to far-off places to get themselves treated. Also cancer involves a long-term treatment. So the idea is to provide relief to families of patients,” he said.
The central assistance for the project will be “huge”. Each centre will be given Rs.120 crore (nearly $20 million).
“While 25 percent of the money would be given by the states governments, in case of northeastern and hilly states the central funding would be more with the state government required to contribute only 10 percent,” he said adding that “these institutes will provide training, rehabilitation and counselling”.
Besides this, the government also has a National Programme For Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke (NPCDCS).
Anshu Prakash said: “This programme aims at achieving district level permeation. The focus in this programme is on oral, breast and cervical cancers, which are the most common in India”.
“The government has also decided to enforce that 85 percent space on tobacco products packets is dedicated to pictorial warnings making it the top country as far as pictorial warnings was concerned,” he added.
According to data by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the total number of cancer cases in India are likely to go up from 979,786 in 2010 to 1,148,757 in 2020.
Tobacco-related cancers in males are estimated to go up from 190,244 in 2010 to 225,241 in 2020.
Similarly, the cases among female tobacco users will go up from 75,289 in 2010 to 93,563 in 2020.
In 2010, the number of cancer cases related to digestive system, for both males and females, are estimated to be 107,030 and 86,606 respectively.
Agreeing with the government’s efforts to step in the fight against cancer, doctors in the private sector said though the government from time to time run awareness camps, it was important to formulate better programmes.
Sumit Goyal, an oncologist with the Jaypee Hospital in Noida, told IANS: “The government needs to formulate better programmes and strategies, involving the common man and communities so that benefit can reach everyone.”
Preeti Jain, an oncologist with the Columbia Asia Hospital, said there are number of awareness programmes being run by government and private hospitals.
“There awareness programmes help the patient to detect the disease and come to visit a doctor. Incidences are rising in India because people are now aware of the symptoms and are coming forward to seek help,” she said.
Anshu Prakash said that the government would also hold a mass screening programme in government as well as private hospitals on Nov 7, which is Cancer Awareness Day.
“Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will hold a meeting Oct 21 to decide on the modalities of the programme,” he added.
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