Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that advanced cancer treatment must be made available at an affordable price and should also be made available for those living in rural areas. He urged the private sector to complement the efforts of government in this endeavour. He was addressing the gathering after inaugurating the Apollo’s State-of-the-art Proton Cancer Centre, which is the first such centre in Southeast Asia, in Chennai today. Shri Naidu appreciated the Apollo Hospitals for starting Proton Therapy centre which uses high-energy proton to irradiate tumors.
Saying that Proton Therapy would be a beacon of hope to people, Shri Naidu said that the cutting-edge of cancer treatment gives many more patients greater strength to battle cancer and lead fulfilling lives. It isolates the affected area, without causing any harm to adjacent organs and hence is the most suitable for treatment of cancer in children, and complex cases where cancerous organs are closely located to crucial life-critical organs, he added.
The Vice President expressed concern that cancer had killed more than double the number of people in 2016 than it had targeted in 1990. He stressed up on the need to increase awareness about early detection and enhance early detection by taking up massive education drives and screening programmes. On this aspect, Shri Naidu called up on the Government, Civil Society and NGOs to organise camps in a big way to create awareness.
Shri Naidu also suggested institutions like Apollo Hospitals to launch mobile screening vans for both urban and rural areas so that more and more people are covered by screening programmes. Awareness about Cancer and detecting the disease at an early stage would avert its dangers, he added.
Talking about the glaring disparity in the provision of the services between urban and rural areas, the Vice President asked the private sector to expand facilities to the rural areas, where the majority of India’s population lives. Despite India successfully eliminating some infectious diseases and improved the reach of healthcare delivery, we still have challenges in healthcare delivery, he added.
The Vice President said that inadequate public spend, low doctor-patient ratio, high share of out-of-pocket expenditure, inadequate infrastructure in rural areas, lack of penetration of health insurance and inadequate preventive mechanisms were the main challenges faced by Indian health sector.
The Vice President opined that some of these major challenges could be addressed by Public Private Partnership and bridges the urban rural divide existing in healthcare services through technically advanced primary and secondary healthcare centres in remote areas.
Calling Ayushman Bharat scheme a major flagship initiative of the Union Government to provide comprehensive insurance coverage to 10 crore poor and vulnerable families, Shri Naidu said that it would establish 150,000 health and wellness centres throughout India to provide affordable and quality health services.
Saying that rising healthcare costs were a major burden on people, Shri Naidu said that it should be a matter of concern for all stakeholders in the health sectors that millions get pushed into poverty and the vicious cycle of debts due to out-of-pocket expenses and high treatment costs. He suggested them to explore all possibilities to minimise the healthcare expenditure and see that every individual gets quality treatment without facing any financial hardship.
The Vice President asked people to shun sedentary lifestyles to minimise the effects of Non-Communicable Diseases and advised them to take up regular exercise, eat healthy food. He also asked them to get their health check up done at a regular interval and take reassures to prevent ill effects of changing lifestyles.
Shri Naidu said that preventive care is the most important aspect of healthcare. If a disease is preventable, we should ensure that we stay well and never allow ill-health to be a stumbling block, he added.
The Governor of Tamil Naidu, Shri Banwarilal Purohit, the Chief Minister of Tamil Naidu, Shri Edappadi K. Palaniswami, the Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Naidu, Shri O. Pannneerselvam, the Chairman of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Shri G. Nageswara Rao, the Chairman of Apollo Hospitals, Shri C. Prathap Reddy and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.