Govt to set up 49 cancer centres in 3 yrs

With cancer cases on the rise in the country, the government plans to set up 49 cancer centres in the next three years. The centres will be in addition to 31 already functioning and upgraded since 2014-15, when the government floated the scheme.

The health ministry has drawn up a detailed project plan which will be reviewed by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) at a high-level meeting on Monday. According to the proposal, reviewed by TOI, the ministry has estimated a cost of around Rs 3,495 crore to implement the scheme over the next three years. The cancer centres will be set up in a phased manner under the existing National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke.

Non-communicable diseases, especially cancer, are increasing at an alarming rate. However, there is a serious dearth of facilities, mainly at the district level. The idea is to make treatment options available across India so that patients do not necessarily have to travel to Delhi and Mumbai, which often leads to additional costs like accommodation, travelling etc," an official said.

In India, over 10 lakh new cases of cancer are diagnosed every year. However, due to late diagnosis, over 7 lakh people die from the disease each year. Projections by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) show that India is likely to have over 17.3 lakh new cases of cancer and over 8.8 lakh deaths due to the disease by 2020.

Apart from setting up cancer centres — which include construction or upgrade of existing facilities like district hospitals, regional cancer centres and government medical colleges — the government's programme will also provide support for high-end equipment and advanced technology for cancer treatment, the official said.
For instance, there are only 600 radiotherapy machines in the country against a requirement of about 1,200 machines, as per estimates by the WHO. Under the scheme, there will be an increase of around 175 radiotherapy machines in India by the end of 2020. The proposal also entails the creation of more facilities for oncology, onco-surgery, chemotherapy and palliative care for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of cancer. "These institutes will also mentor all cancer-related activities, including research and development, in their respective areas," the official said.

While the 49 new cancer centres will be initially set up under two categories — state cancer institutes and tertiary care cancer centres (TCCCs) in a phased manner — they will be responsible for building capacities of other institutions below for prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment.



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