Calls upon government, health policymakers and industry to partner for reducing cancer burden, promote greater equity, and integrate cancer control into state health and development agenda
Dinesh Gundu Rao, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka, unveiled a comprehensive Nine-Target strategy as part of the Bengaluru-Declaration of FICCI Cancer Care Task Force. This initiative is dedicated to significantly reducing premature deaths caused by cancer, improving the quality of life as well as elevating cancer survival rates in the state.
The minister addressed ‘Regional Roundtable- ‘Road Map for Making Cancer Care Affordable and Accessible in India’, organised by FICCI, jointly with the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Govt of Karnataka and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of India, in association with HCG Cancer Hospitals, supported by Pfizer and EY.
Rao said, “The number of increasing cancer incidences is a worrying fact. Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases adversely affecting both patients and their families, as they not only undergo financial repercussions because of the expensive treatment but psychological ones as well. This is something that needs to be looked into as a priority.”
The minister added, “We all need to collaborate to enhance early detection and screening by bringing cancer diagnosis to doorstep, both in urban and rural areas.” He also urged everyone to work towards reducing the intake of tobacco and carcinogenic food in our diets.
Anil Kumar T K, Principal Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka shared key focus areas for the government and industry to work on including awareness and education on lifestyle management, improving quality of screening, along with timely treatment after detection as well as strengthening the continuum of care. He also shared that Karnataka introduced comprehensive laws on smoke-free environments and has been recognized by the United Nations for its efforts towards this.
Dr L Swasticharan, Addl. DDG & Director (EMR), Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of India said, “We should help the country achieve its sustainable goal by reducing the morbidity associated with cancer and work towards R&D for medicines to prolong the life of patients. It is also crucial to increase awareness against tobacco and alcohol, specifically amongst the younger population who are usually misguided.”
Raj Gore, Co-Chair, FICCI Task Force Cancer Care and CEO, Healthcare Global Enterprises (HCG) shared, “The war with the pandemic might have waned, but we are still far away from winning the war with one of the most dreaded diseases, Cancer. No other disease is comparable in its devastating impact on the life of patients as cancer. India already ranks third after China and the US in new cancer cases reported. In the last year alone, more than 8 lakh Indians were estimated to have lost their lives to this deadly disease. Karnataka is one of the first states to establish a cancer control committee by the government of Karnataka. It is also among the first states to declare cancer as a notifiable disease. Now it’s time to join forces for all stakeholders to make coordinated efforts to mitigate and control this looming cancer epidemic.”
D Randeep, Commissioner, Health and Family Welfare Services, Government of Karnataka; Dr Riyaz Basha, Registrar, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Karnataka and R Ramesh Babu of the State Government of Andhra Pradesh were also present on the occasion.
The Roundtable was attended by various experts from the oncology sector, including senior clinicians, hospital administrators, diagnostics, medtech, health-tech and pharma companies as well as civil society and start-ups.
Significant recommendations were shared by Dr V Lokesh, Director, Kidwai Institute, Bangalore; Dr Rakesh Mittal, Oncologist and Member of Management Committee, Indian Cancer Society, Karnataka; and Dr Vishal Rao, Group Director for Head & Neck Surgical Oncology and Robotic Surgery at HCG Cancer Centre, Bengaluru; Vineet Gupta, Co-Chair, FICCI Task Force on Cancer Care & Director-Government Affairs, Varian Medical Systems International India; Aditi Mehta, Category Lead, Oncology, Pfizer India and others.
Srimayee Chakraborty, Partner-Healthcare, EY Business Consulting, India, highlighted that Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are among the top five states with one of highest overall crude incidence rates of cancer above all India’s average of 122 cases per lakh population. She also shared that southern states have relatively better access to cancer care with a high penetration of comprehensive cancer centres indicating better positioning per lakh of population.