Screening data available with the government shows that India has 6.1 per cent incidence of diabetes, 7.4 per cent hypertension, 0.26 per cent cardiovascular diseases and 0.21 per cent cancers, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. He was replying to a short duration discussion on the incidence of cancer in India.
“…In a little over 200 districts, we have screened 6.79 crore people and fortunately, we found 6.1 per cent diabetes cases, 7.4 per cent hypertension cases, 0.26 per cent cardiovascular disease cases and 0.21 per cent cancer cases. For cancers, screening was done for oral, breast and cervical cancer. After that there is an organised procedure to put them on treatment,” the minister told the House.
Quoting scientists from the Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital, he claimed that initiatives such as Swacch Bharat and the construction of toilets have led to a reduction in the incidence of penile, uterine and cervical cancers.
He also outlined the various anti-cancer research initiatives. A CSIR laboratory, he said, has “identified and patented signatures for breast cancer and Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia which would help in diagnosis and screening of the population at large…”
Participating in the discussion, MPs recounted their own battles with cancer, with DMK’s Tiruchi Siva mentioning his late wife’s suffering and Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad talking about how the disease took away his father in 20 days, how his father-in-law succumbed to it, but his wife was lucky to have been diagnosed in the first stage. Azad, a former health minister, spoke at length about the initiatives of the UPA government in this direction.
The members also remembered colleagues lost to the disease, including former ministers Manohar Parrikar and Ananth Kumar. “The burden of cancer has doubled in the last 25 years. Statistics from the ICMR show that there were about 14 lakh cases of cancer in 2016, and by the end of 2018, this number has crossed 15 lakh. This shows that cancer registers a growth of six to seven per cent every year. Unless we take remedial steps in this regard, this problem is going to get more and more serious year after year,” said B Vijai Sai Reddy of YSR Congress.
CPM MP K K Ragesh spoke about the high cancer burden of his home state Kerala despite the fact that tobacco control is good there and pollution levels are not alarming. He requested that a special team be sent to Kerala to study the situation there.