Cancer is the leading cause of death around the globe and deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue to rise to over 13.1 million by 2030 according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report in 2018.
In India, 11,57,294 new cases of cancer was detected in 2018 while it accounted for about 7,84,821 deaths in the same year according to Globocan. Presently in India, it is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality.
According to WHO, many cancers are preventable through the provision of primarily detection of cases in its early stage, treatment provision, improved lifestyles and through controlling the modifiable risk factors such as tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity, amongst others.
Magnitude of the Problem
In India out of total number of new cancer cases, 1,62,468 (14%) are breast cancer, 96,922 (8.4%) cases are cervix uteri, and 1,19,992 (10.4%) cases are lip, and oral cavity cancer as per the Globocan 2018 report. Apart from these 67,795 (5.9%) cases are lung cancer, 57,394 (5%) cases are stomach cancer and 6,52,723 (56.4%) new cases have been registered from other cancer diseases.
In Assam every year more than 32,000 new cancer cases are reported out of which 70% cases reported are in their advance stage with high mortality rates averaging 40-50%. Tobacco usage, particularly smokeless tobacco, is responsible for 50% of all cancer cases and at 48.2% its prevalence is among the highest in Assam.
Community Screening Outreach Programme for Tea Estate
In a unique intervention, Assam Cancer Care Foundation (an initiative of Govt of Assam & Tata Trusts) is starting a first of its kind Community Outreach Programme (Screening and Awareness of common Non-communicable diseases) in the Amalgamated Plantations Tea Garden Estates of Dibrugarh district from November 25.
People between the age group of 30-65 years of age will be screened for hypertension, diabetes mellitus and common cancer – oral, breast, cervical.
“According to guidelines by MoHFW, early detection of chronic diseases cases is critical towards the reduction of the morbidity and mortality. Through a series of planned interventions, all the five Amalgamated Plantations Tea Garden Estates (Chubwa and Nahartoli) will be covered in a phase wise manner,” Kumar Gaurav, State Lead for Screening Programme stated.
The first phase of the Community Screening Programme will be started in the Amalgamated Plantations Tea Garden Estate in Chabua from November 25.
A dedicated team for public health professionals including doctors and nurses will carry out the tasks for the entire programme. The awareness and screening programme will be started from 9 am and will continue till 5 pm at the Chubwa Tea Estate Hospital in Chabua.
The zero cost programme seeks to benefit the total population of the Amalgamated Plantations Tea Garden area in Chabua which is 9,597 (7,905 people stay in the garden area and 1,692 people live outside the garden area). Out of this, approximately 3,600 people in between the targeted age group will be screened for hypertension, diabetes and cancer diseases by the dedicated medical team of Assam Cancer Care Foundation.
Suspected cases will be referred to the Referral Hospital and Research Centre (RHRC) for further diagnostic and treatment purposes. Free ambulance services will be provided to the suspected cases for referral to the centre, a service that was started by National Health Mission & ACCF last year.
The dignitaries who have spearheaded, and will be supporting the programme include Dr P Khaund, Chief Medical Officer cum Administrator of Referral Hospital and Research Centre (RHRC), Dr A Hussain, Senior Gynecologist (RHRC), Dinnanath Gour and Priyakshi Sarma, Welfare Officers of Chubwa Tea Garden Estate, Amalgamated Plantations, Kaberi Borah, Welfare Officer of Nahartoli Tea Garden Estate, Amalgamated Plantations and in between the personals from Assam Cancer Care Foundation (ACCF) Kumar Gaurav, State Liasioning Officer, ACCF.
Formal discussions were also made with Dr Udayan Kr Baruah, Joint Director of Health Services, Dibrugarh district and Samiran Sarma, District Programme Coordinator -NPCDCS.
“This is a landmark initiative of awareness and screening programme in the garden areas and I extend my support for smooth operation of the processes through the provision of additional medicines and other consumables from the NHM side,” Dr Baruah said.
The effort is a unique endeavour of outreach and making preventive oncology accessible to the more marginalised sections of our society. Perhaps it is such exemplar joint co-ordinations and movements which can help us beat the non-communicable diseases from our society. The chronic diseases epidemic in people’s life through healthy practices like early detection of cases through accessible screening and appropriate treatment, better life style habits, and reducing the modifiable risk factors etc.