In India, cancer risk is constantly on the rise with 10 lakh people diagnosed with it every year. Around 7 lakh of them die, making it one of the leading causes of death. On the one hand, there is no proper awareness about the disease and diagnosis happens when a person has reached the terminal stage. On the other hand, treatment is either very costly or is out of the reach of the patients.
To address this gap, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has planned to set up 49 new cancer centres in addition to the existing 31 centres. They will be built over the period of next three years. Building new centres will not necessarily involve building from the scratch, but will include upgrading the already available clinics in all states. This will ensure that people do not have to travel very far for diagnosis and treatment. According to The Times of India, one of the officials from health ministry said,
The idea is to make treatment options available across India so that patients do not necessarily have to travel to Delhi and Mumbai, which often leads to additional costs like accommodation, travelling etc.
It is not just the lack of centres and awareness that is the problem. There are only 600 radiotherapy machines where there should be 1,200.
According to Huffington Post, projections by ICMR shows that the number of deaths due to cancer will increase significantly in the coming years. By 2020, around 17 lakh people are expected to have cancer and deaths due to cancer will increase up to 20 percent. Though 600 radiotherapy machines cannot be bought overnight, the ministry aims at buying at least 200 by the end of 2018.
The health ministry has also estimated that the cost of everything will be around Rs 3,495 crore including the centres and the project details have been submitted to the Prime Minister’s office.