Kohima: Nagaland Health and Family Welfare Minister S Pangnyu Phom on Monday released the report on Monitoring Survey of Cancer Risk Factors and Health System Response in North East Region, particularly Nagaland. Speaking during the release programme Phom said this study is a first of its kind in the state, which will greatly enhance the understanding and the limitations of the state in the fight against the burden of cancer, which has long plagued the population of Nagaland.
The report, he said, is a call for real, purposeful and transformative action that will improve the care and lives of patients, and their families who have been traumatized by the burden of cancer especially in the state.
He said it is imperative to introduce a better health care service with focus on cancer and non-communicable diseases while screening and early detection facilities should become a priority, which will directly improve the health status.
Director of National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr Prashant Mathur while stating that 50 per cent of the cancer is avoidable, said that Nagaland reports peculiar cases of cancer which is not prevalent in other parts of the country.
He said the survey report has shown that there is a need to take primary care to peoples’ doorstep, besides counselling services against the use of tobacco, alcohol the prime cause of cancer.
In this, Dr Mathur emphasized on the need for Nagaland to have a cancer plan or a policy document to control cancer in the state.
Nagaland Health and Family Welfare Secretary Asangla Imti said that the findings from the survey will form a baseline to improve and augment the policy and programme with regard to prevention and treatment of cancer in the state.
Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases while in Nagaland it is among the top five leading causes of death, she said, adding that the objective of the report is to find out the cancer profile in the state, focusing on high cancer incidence sites and to identify the causes.
“Cancer incidence will not decrease in future unless we focus to reduce the risk factors by seriously sensitizing the people and making them aware of the kind of habits and lifestyles causing it, based on the survey report,” said Imti.
The report, she said will go a long way in providing inputs to the policy makers, decision makers, and implementers to know what is fuelling cancer burden in the state and adopt preventive and remedial measures accordingly.
Presenting an outline of the findings, Principal Investigator consultant and state nodal officer BSL labs Research & Ethics Department of Health & Family Welfare, Dr Vinotsole Khamo said the key risk factors include high use of both smoking and smokeless tobacco, alcohol, diet, raised blood pressure, overweight/obesity, raised blood sugar and lack of health seeking behaviour etc.
The report has recommended creating awareness on tobacco and alcohol related disease, education, counselling and creation of rehabilitation facilities, beside general health awareness and healthy lifestyle.
It has stressed on creating awareness on the availability of health care insurance schemes to the public.
Maintaining that 25 per cent of poor cancer patients cannot afford the drugs and so do not take treatment at all, it has suggested providing free chemotherapy drugs to cancer patients and also availability of cancer screening facilities in all the community health centres and district hospitals.