Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday called upon the private sector to come forward and partner with state governments to provide modern cancer treatment facilities in rural areas.
Inaugurating a PET-MRI wing at the State Cancer Institute in the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, Naidu said it would not only greatly help in more accurate diagnosis, but will also reduce patients’ exposure to radiation.
A PET-MRI scan is an imaging test that combines PET (positron emission tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in one session. It creates very detailed pictures of the inside of the body.
It is only the fourth such machine in India and the first in the eastern region.
On the step-down cancer care model called the Distributed Cancer Care Model, which the Assam government proposes to implement in partnership with Tata Trusts, the Vice-President advised other states to emulate it for providing timely and effective treatment to cancer patients.
Referring to the aim to create patient-centric cancer institutions to deliver standardised and affordable care closer to the patients’ homes, instead of a single apex hospital handling a cancer patient’s treatment, Naidu said they would provide high-quality cancer care and reduce out-of-pocket expenses for cancer patients.
The Vice-President lauded the Assam government and the state’s medical fraternity for the services rendered during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He also called for making healthcare more accessible and affordable to the common man.
In this regard, he reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that there is a need to have at least one medical college in each district of the country.
Naidu also urged all the state governments to include lessons on the importance of adopting healthy lifestyles in the school curricula to make children aware of the need to prevent non-communicable diseases.
He also called for a national campaign to bring awareness among people about ‘lifestyle diseases’.
Saying the Covid-19 pandemic has taught important lessons and the foremost among them was to maintain good health and develop immunity, he emphasised the importance of leading a disciplined lifestyle, undertaking regular physical activity and avoiding an unhealthy diet.
“In fact, they are important in preventing the growing incidence of various non-communicable diseases, including cancer”, the Vice President emphasised.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was present at the programme, said the new PET-MRI Wing will greatly augment treatment of cancer in the North East region.
This Rs 62 crore machine is faster than PET-CT and essential for advanced cancer research activities, he added.
Sarma said the state government is implementing a Distributed Cancer Care Model in the state through the Assam Cancer Care Foundation set up in partnership with Tata Trusts for providing timely and effective treatment to cancer patients.
Under this model, there is one Apex Referral Centre which is the State Cancer Institute at Guwahati called Level 1, Comprehensive Cancer Hospitals attached to government medical colleges called Level 2s and Diagnostic and Day Care Centres adjacent to district hospitals called Level 3s, he said.
Under the Distributed Cancer Care Model, 18 cancer hospitals are being set up across Assam and patients would not need to travel outside the state for treatment, Sarma said.
“As Assam reports nearly 52,000 new cancer cases every year, the state government signed an MoU in 2018 with Tata Trusts for setting up cancer hospitals where equipment is provided by Tata Trusts and civil construction is done by the state government. Despite the Covid pandemic we are not much behind schedule and construction of these hospitals is going to be completed by March 2022″, he said.
He said free cancer treatment is being provided to the poor and underprivileged sections in the state with the help of Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat and Atal Amrit Abhiyan schemes which cover almost 92 per cent of such patients.
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