The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu called for adopting a multi-pronged strategy to arrest the growing incidence of cancer–from launching an aggressive awareness campaign on the need to lead a healthy lifestyle to holding regular health screening camps at the community level. Emphasizing on collective action, Shri Naidu said, “Let us act together to prevent cancer and save lives.”
The Vice President made these remarks while virtually inaugurating the IFCPC 2021 World Congress hosted by the Indian Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology. He also launched a special edition of ‘Indian Journal of Gynaecological Oncology’ during the event.
Noting that cervical cancer is ranked as the second most common cancer in Indian women, the Vice President pointed out that cervical cancer is both preventable and curable. He said that early diagnosis through routine screening of apparently healthy women has led to a phenomenal reduction in the global burden of the disease. “If we adopt a comprehensive approach to prevent, screen and treat cervical cancer, it can be eliminated as a public health problem,” he added.
Highlighting that cervical cancer can be prevented by the means of vaccine, Shri Naidu said, “the Anti-HPV vaccine administered to young girls has been seen as a proven tool in the prevention of cervical cancer.”
Shri Naidu urged private hospitals to organize regular visits of healthcare specialists to rural areas and spread awareness amongst people on the preventive measures, early symptoms of cervical cancer, the importance of early detection and the benefits of the HPV vaccine.
Drawing attention to the growing menace of cancer, the Vice President mentioned that in 2020 alone, nearly 10 million people died of cancer worldwide. “With around 70 per cent of cancer deaths occurring in low-to-middle income countries, the burden of cancer-related morbidity and mortality is higher for them and has grave implications to the economy of these nations,” he added.
Pointing out that at least one-third of the common cancers are preventable, Shri Naidu expressed his concern that in a majority of cases, cancers are being detected at an advanced stage which makes the treatment and recovery that much more challenging.
Highlighting the plight of cancer patients and their family members, Shri Naidu said that during cancer treatment, patients and their families not only get affected physically and mentally but monetarily too. “In many cases, families end up exhausting their life savings to meet the expenses,” he added. Referring to the high costs of cancer treatment, the Vice President said there was an urgent need to bring down the cost of cancer treatment.
Calling the Ayushman Bharat scheme a major flagship initiative of the Government of India to provide comprehensive insurance coverage to 10.74 crore needy and vulnerable families, Shri Naidu said that it would provide a cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization across public and private empanelled hospitals in India.
The Vice President also expressed his concern over the rising numbers of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). He said that amidst our fight against the pandemic, the rise in NCDs could not be ignored. Shri Naidu mentioned that apart from a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and harmful consumption of alcohol; high levels of pollution were also contributing to the rise in NCDs. Describing it as a worrisome situation, the Vice President called for a concerted action to prevent NCDs and reduce premature deaths caused by them.
Stressing on the importance of physical and mental well-being, the Vice President reiterated the words of great spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda, he said, “You must keep a strict eye on your health; let everything else be subordinated to that.”
The Vice President appreciated the medical fraternity and healthcare professionals for their noble service during the ongoing pandemic, he said, “The entire world is indebted to the medical fraternity for their selfless service during the ongoing battle against the pandemic.”
Shri Naidu lauded the International Federation of Cervical Pathology & Colposcopy and the Indian Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology for their commitment and efforts towards reducing the burden of cervical cancer globally.
Dr Harsh Vardhan, Hon’ble Health Minister of India, Prof (Dr) Sunil Kumar, Director General of Health Services, Govt. of India, senior doctors, Office Bearers of IFCPC, Members of ISCCP, health experts and students also participated during the virtual event.