A cluster of 19 cancer care centres will soon come up in Assam as part of a joint collaboration between the state government and Tata Trusts. The ground breaking ceremony for the cancer care centres was held at Khanapara in Guwahati on June 18 wherein a host of dignitaries, including Tata Trusts chairman Ratan Tata, MP Amit Shah, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and others participated.

Speaking on the occasion, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that cancer treatment takes a heavy toll on the mental, physical and financial conditions of a family. “With the setting up of 19-hospital cancer care grid in the state, the whole cancer care management will be revolutionized. Patients will be able to avail quality treatment without going outside the state,” he said.

The chief minister added that ever since coming to power the present state government has initiated many schemes like Atal Amrit Abhiyan, free diagnostic facilities which have improved the public health scenario in the state. Following Advantage Assam Global Investors’ Summit, the state has come into the investment limelight of the nation and a total of Rs 79,000 crore of investment has been committed to the state during the summit, the chief minister said.

Sonowal also thanked Tata Trusts chairman, Ratan Tata, for fulfilling the commitment of extending cooperation in setting up 19 hospitals as part of the three-tier cancer care programme in the state.

Speaking on the occasion, Tata said that since the Northeast part of the country has highest occurrence of cancer cases, Tata Trusts is committed to the cause of setting up cancer hospital grid in the state to bring succour to the patients. “Researchers under Tata Trusts are working for finding cutting edge solutions to manage cancer efficiently so that mortality due to cancer can be reduced through awareness, prevention and early detection while taking care closer to the people,” he said.

State health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that a corpus of Rs 1,910 crore has been created under Assam Cancer Care Foundation, a joint venture between Assam government and Tata Trusts, to set up three different layers of hospitals for cancer patients in 19 districts of the state.

As part of the agreement, Tata Trusts will contribute nearly Rs 900 crore, while the state government will provide a grant of Rs 1,080 crore, he informed. Central government has committed another Rs 180 crores in addition to the corpus fund, he added.

Elaborating on the plan, Sarma said that the Assam Medical College and Hospital at Dibrugarh would be treated as a level 1 hospital, which would largely be a referral hospital with 200 additional beds. The level 3 hospitals would be set up at Darrang, Goalpara, Golaghat, Haflong and Sivasagar. Further, 150-bed level 2 hospitals would come up in Silchar, Barpeta, Jorhat, Tezpur, Diphu, Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Lakhimpur, Nagaon, Tinsukia, Karimganj and Nalbari. The places identified for level 2 are those where multi-specialty support from the medical colleges is available or at least proposals for setting up medical colleges are already in place.

Rajya Sabha MP Amit Shah, who also spoke in the programme, acknowledged the crucial role played by Tata Trusts with their philanthropic activities in bolstering public health sector in different parts of the country for so many years. He referred to schemes of central government like Ayushman Bharat which covers approximately 10 crore poor and vulnerable families with approximately 50 crore beneficiaries, providing coverage up-to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization and Mission Indradhanush which aims to immunize all children under the age of 2 years

Shah appreciated the Assam government under chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal for taking up such mega projects within a short period of time to fulfil the aspirations of the people of the state.

Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu also spoke in the programme.

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