Cancer registry mandatory in state

CHANDIGARH: Faced with spiraling incidents of cancer due to groundwater turning into a dangerous cocktail of pesticides and chemicals, the Punjab government has decided to make cancer registry mandatory in the state. The government hopes the moved will not just help cancer patients get access to treatment, but give it an idea about the actual number of people suffering from the kiler disease. TOI had highlighted the plight of people, especially in rural Punjab, suffering from cancer which, as elaborate studies done by experts at PGI indicated, were due to highly toxic groundwater. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had taken suo moto notice of the news report and treated it as a PIL. A parallel study was then ordered by the state government to find out how bad the water quality actually is. This survey, too, has suggested that there are higher numbers of cancer cases especially in the cotton growing belt where pesticides are sprayed in higher quantities. Rattled by the damning reports, the health department has begun working out modalities to register every cancer patient in the state. ‘‘A notification to this effect will be issued soon,’’said T R Sarangal, secretary health and director, NRHM. ‘‘ We are weighing the viability of reaching out to people in the villages to find out the exact numbers afflicted with the disease.’’ With crumbling and virtually non-existent health infrastructure in the rural areas, it is the implementation of cancer registry rather than just its notification that is going to be government’s main challenge. The registration aims at collecting and classifying information on all cancer cases to produce statistics on the occurrence of cancer. ‘‘Patients registered will also be directed to the relevant treatment,’’said Sarangal. The government, he said, is also trying to address the cost factor as well since exorbitant cancer treatment is a major stumbling block for people, a large number of whom, are compelled to sell their ancestral land to meet expenses. ‘‘The State Illness Fund will be operational from June 1 and we already have Rs 1.5 crore at our disposal. Since cancer is a life threatening disease it is covered under the scheme,’’said Sarangal. Of 20 mobile medical vans, scheduled to be mobilized in villages by July, the vans catering to people in Muktsar district, which arguably has the highest number of cancer patients, will be equipped with mammography equipment. The aim, say health authorities, is early detection since the chances of effective treatment are then higher.
20 May 2008, 0532 hrs IST , Priya Yadav , TNN


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