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‘War on cancer’ need of the hour: Ampareen

She told reporters on March 15, “The government has come up with a mission – a cancer mission. Now, the very fact that we call it a mission is because we have to combat cancer as a disease on a war footing.”

SHILLONG:

Health minister Ampareen Lyngdoh has said that the government is on a mission to fight against cancer, even as she stressed on screening camps and sensitisation targeting the young population.

She told reporters on March 15, “The government has come up with a mission – a cancer mission. Now, the very fact that we call it a mission is because we have to combat cancer as a disease on a war footing.”

Stating that an inspection at the operational cancer wing of Shillong Civil Hospital has been an eye-opener for her, Lyngdoh said there were a lot of unanswered questions about when the cancer institute in the Civil Hospital complex became fully operational.

The minister said that tremendous effort is being put in to ensure that the department reaches out to patients across the board, across gender, across age groups, as it has been established that cancer is one of the biggest killers in the state.

She said that the team of doctors are well versed in getting the job done and are well prepared to ensure that the facility of the cancer institute is continuously upscaled.

Lyngdoh said that coverage of Megha Health Insurance Scheme is almost 100 per cent and registration of Aadhaar is important.

As for the number of outpatient services, Lyngdoh informed that East Khasi Hills has the largest number of detections, and the free testing screening programme has taken off with over 2,000 people already screened at around 200 camps.

“They will upscale these screening camps as well and extend these facilities even to other parts of the state. But because the East Khasi Hills region has registered the highest number of cancer patients, this project takes off from East Khasi Hills,” she said.

Meanwhile, head of department of oncology Anisha Mawlong said that the average new cases registered per year is around 1,000 and the OPD roughly averages 50 to 60 patients a day.

Mawlong informed that the cancer wing is ready with the indoor facility accommodating 90 beds along with the day-care and indoor facilities to cater to cancer patients providing treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, palliative care services and screening services. The radiotherapy setup will come up soon and the tendering is being done by Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, she added.

The department will also be getting a single energy linear accelerator and a CT simulator while renewal therapy is currently provided from the old Civil Hospital building.

“We also talk about preventing and early detection of cancer in the state because we need to reduce the burden of the disease, as it is well known that the country stands first in tobacco-related cancer while Meghalaya stands 2nd in males and 11th in females in all cancers in the country. The North East is the cancer capital of the country,” Mawlong said.

She said the department will focus on youths who have not yet started taking tobacco and the department plans to educate them on the ill effects of tobacco.

“We already have a tie up between Shillong Civil Hospital, the state government and NEIGRIHMS for cancer care. It was started with the FCC project which is going to take place now. NEIGRIHMS will also assist us starting from diagnosis to treatment as our pathology lab is not so well-equipped. We will be sending our patients to NEIGRIHMS and it will be done cashless through MHIS,” she said.

“Also treatment-wise, we have a partnership where we can send our patients to NEIGRIHMS for the surgery and patients come back to Civil Hospital since we do not have a surgical oncologist here,” Mawlong added.

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