Punjab launches massive cancer awareness campaign

Chandigarh, Sep 24 : Faced with rising number of cases of cancer in the state, the Punjab government Tuesday launched a massive cancer awareness campaign in the state.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and cricketer Yuvraj Singh, both of whom have battled cancer, launched the campaign here. Yuvraj Singh has been made the brand ambassador of the campaign.

Badal said the campaign was aimed at early detection and timely treatment of cancer at all district level hospitals, active participation of noted oncologists from leading cancer hospitals and support from NGOs.

"I have myself suffered from cancer nearly 20 years ago and have fought it. Yuvraj Singh has fought against the disease so bravely. My father and wife both died of cancer. We have launched this campaign so that people are made aware of cancer and early detection of the disease takes place," Badal told media here.

The Punjab health department is organizing massive cancer screening camps in all 22 districts Sep 28-29, said Principal Secretary (Health) Vini Mahajan.

"Three state-of-the-art cancer treatment hospitals at Baba Farid Medical University of Health Sciences at Faridkot, the Medical College at Amritsar and the Medical College at Patiala, have been established and equipped with latest cancer detection and treatment equipment," Badal said.

He said that the state government is also establishing a new 400-bedded Cancer Hospital at Mullanpur, near Chandigarh, in collaboration with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre Mumbai (BARC), besides a 100-bedded cancer treatment hospital at Bathinda.

"The state government had also established a dedicated fund of Rs. 200 crore for cancer treatment in the state. As on date the government is providing Rs. 1.5 lakh to each cancer patient for treatment," Badal said.

Bathinda, Mansa, Sangrur, Barnala and Muktsar district in south-west Punjab, which comprise the state's Malwa belt (south of river Sutlej), are the worst-affected by cancer cases.

Most surveys and reports have indicated that the high incidence of cancer is owing to excessive use of pesticides by farmers in this belt which is known for high agricultural productivity.

A government survey conducted last year, had revealed a shocking 34,430 deaths - nearly 19 deaths per day - in the last five years due to cancer. This forced the government to initiate steps for making the state cancer-free.

The door-to-door health department survey covered nearly 97 percent of Punjab's 2.70 crore population and had brought out glaring figures of cancer deaths and the spread of the fatal disease in the agrarian state.

--IANS (Posted on 24-09-2013)

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