Make cancer treatment affordable, says Vice President Venkaiah Naidu

Vice President called for strengthening of preventive, curative and palliative care programmes at national and regional levels to combat the rising incidence of cancer

The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu has asked policy makers to put in efforts to make cancer treatment affordable. Addressing the gathering after inaugurating the new State Cancer Institute Block at Kidwai Cancer Institute, Bengaluru in Karnataka today, he expressed concern over the rising cost of cancer treatment. Governor of Karnataka, Shri Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala, Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri H.D. Kumaraswamy and other dignitaries were present at the venue.

 

Vice President called for strengthening of preventive, curative and palliative care programmes at national and regional levels to combat the rising incidence of cancer.

No doubt, huge investments are needed for trained man power and equipment necessary for offering optimal treatment, but the government should explore various policy alternatives that would make cancer treatment affordable, he said.

 

The Vice President asked doctors to establish a regular communication with the patients, especially in a dreaded disease like cancer. Patients and their families need comfort. They need palliative care and more importantly kind words that make the pain bearable, he said.

Empathy and patience, care and compassion are qualities that can infuse hope in the hearts of patients and calm the troubled minds of the families, he said.

The Vice President stressed on the need to create greater awareness on the dangers of pollution, obesity, harmful use of tobacco, betel nuts and alcohol, leading sedentary lifestyle, eating junk and other foods linked to cancer. It is also equally important to take up periodic screening of people, especially those at risk of developing cancer.

The Vice President asked policy makers to evolve effective cancer prevention strategies and said that there is a need for making increased investments in the area of cancer prevention research.

We need to establish cancer units for early detection, diagnosis, treatment and to provide palliative care in rural areas where about 70 per cent of our population resides. We need to have more medical and para-medical professionals in this field of medicine, he said.

 

Following is the text of Vice President’s address:

 

Speech of Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Hon’ble Vice President of India at the inauguration of new State Cancer Institute Block at Kidwai Cancer Institute, Bengaluru

 

 

Dear sisters and brothers,

At the outset, let me express my appreciation for establishing new Cancer Institute Block at the prestigious Kidwai Cancer Institute in Bangalore to offer the latest and best treatment to cancer patients.

With the spread of cancer continuing unabated, there is a need for more exclusive cancer treatment facilities across the country.

It is indeed a matter of serious concern for all of us that the incidence of cancer is increasing in the country. Although preventive, curative and palliative care programmes have been initiated at national and regional levels, these measures seem to be too negligible for combating the spread of cancer.

Documented findings reveal mammoth proportions of cancer growth which warrants not only scientific, but also sustained and consistent efforts with appropriate planning, monitoring and evaluation of cancer control programmes.

While the incidence of cancer has been increasing worldwide, developing nations like India are showing steep increase over the years. In India, it is estimated that there are about 30 lakh cases of cancer at any particular point of time with 10 lakh new cases occurring every year. About 5 lakh deaths occur annually in the country due to cancer in India.

According to projections of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 2016, the total number of new cases is expected to touch 17.3 lakh by 2020. It has been estimated that the number of deaths due to cancer is likely to reach 8.8 lakh cases by 2020. Breast cancer was the most common among women, while the incidence of mouth cancer was highest among men. Clearly, this is a major healthcare challenge that needs to be adequately and effectively addressed.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The data regarding cancer in India show that only 12.5 per cent of patients come for treatment in the early stages of the disease. This clearly indicates the need for greater awareness and early detection.

The genetic make-up of an individual, environment, dietary habits, hygiene and the modern day lifestyle are affecting the health of individuals.

From the data available from National Cancer Registry Programme of ICMR, it has been estimated that on an average one among every 15 men and one among every 12 women in the urban centres could develop cancer in their lifetime. It is important, therefore, to create greater awareness on the dangers of pollution, obesity, harmful use of tobacco, betel nuts and alcohol; leading sedentary lifestyle, eating junk and other foods linked to cancer. It is also equally important to take up periodic screening of people, especially those at risk of developing cancer.

Accurate data helps understand the magnitude as well as various dimensions of the problem. I am glad that efforts have been made by the ICMR to make cancer a notifiable disease on a national basis with the objective of generating authentic data to enable proper diagnosis, treatment and targeted interventions for cancer control. Availability of reliable scientific data will also enable planners and policymakers to evolve effective cancer prevention strategies. At the same time, there is a need for making increased investments in the area of cancer prevention research.

I am pleased that the Government of Karnataka has already declared cancer as a notifiable disease. This will go a long way in correctly understanding the magnitude of the disease in the state and formulating a better more targeted cancer care policy.

As I had mentioned earlier, it is a matter of great concern that a vast majority of the cancer patients are reporting at cancer treatment centres when the disease is manifesting itself in an advanced stage. Lack of awareness and several other socio-economic factors, could be the reason for the delay in seeking medical intervention.

While cancer hospitals and treatment facilities are available in many urban areas, we need to establish cancer units for early detection, diagnosis, treatment and to provide palliative care in rural areas where about 70 per cent of our population resides. We need to have more medical and para-medical professionals in this field of medicine.

A major concern for all stakeholders involved in the health sector is the cost of treatment. No doubt, huge investments are needed for trained man power and equipments necessary for offering optimal treatment, but the government should explore various policy alternatives that would make cancer treatment affordable.

It should be noted that increased life expectancy has exposed more population to cancer risks. It is, therefore, extremely important for creating greater awareness on cancer and the associated risks. Adequate attention has to be paid to preventive aspects and promotion of healthy lifestyles.

Apart from initiating measures to establish oncology wings in various medical colleges, I am happy that the Central Government has upgraded several Regional Cancer Centres into State Cancer Institutes by providing adequate funds to build infrastructure, procure state of art equipments for diagnosis and treatment of cancer. One of the beneficiaries of this national initiative is the State of Karnataka which has successfully upgraded the cancer care facilities at Kidwai Cancer Institute.

It is a matter of great satisfaction that this Institute, which has been in existence for the past four decades, has emerged as one of the premiere Regional Cancer Centres for Treatment and Research in the country. I am happy that it is catering not only to people of Karnataka but also to patients from other parts of India, including those from north eastern states.

Any scientific and medical institution can grow as a centre of excellence only if it keeps pace with the latest advances in the field.

Its faculty and staff must constantly strive to update their knowledge and professional expertise. They should keep researching and add to the corpus of knowledge.

The institutional ethos should be shaped by the managers in such a way that patients get world class treatment in a humane, caring environment.

Physical infrastructure is essential and needs periodical upgradation and regular maintenance.

I am happy that this institute has taken a major leap in extending the state of art cancer treatment through robotic surgery and hi-tech linear accelerator facilities, I am sure that it will help the ailing poor cancer patients and their families in combating cancer and bouncing back to good health.

Beyond the physical infrastructure and equipment, what is crucial is the communication with the patients.

Especially in a dreaded disease like cancer the patients and the families need comfort.

They need palliative care and more importantly kind words that make the pain bearable.

Empathy and patience, care and compassion are qualities that can infuse hope in the hearts of patients and calm the troubled minds of the families.

I am happy to see this institution grow and develop into a centre of excellence. I compliment the management, the doctors and the entire staff for serving the people who seek medical help and advise.

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