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Cancer Deaths in Punjab

Assembly Session
State to conduct census of cancer patients Will create fund to be used for their treatment
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8, 2011
Two members’ question on the number of cancer patients in Punjab and relief provided to them by the government had the state Assembly engrossed in a brief but meaningful debate on the subject, which prompted Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to order a census of cancer patients and create a fund to be utilised for the treatment of the patients.

Interestingly, when the Chief Minister proposed that all members of the House, including ministers, should donate their one month salary for the special cancer fund, all legislators present in the House assented to it.

Ajit Inder Singh Mofar and Sukhpal Singh Khaira, both from the Congress, wanted to know from state Health Minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla a subdivision-wise break up of cancer patients and deaths due to this deadly disease in the state. They also wanted to know how many of these patients got complete treatment besides the total relief provided to them.

Chawla maintained that though there was no provision for the registration of cancer patients in the state, she had on her own asked the department to conduct a count of the total number of cancer patients and deaths caused due to it.

She said between 2001 and 2009, the total number of cancer patients detected in the rural areas numbered 23, 427, of which 16,730 died. At present, as many as 6,000 cancer patients were under treatment.

When Congress members insisted to know about the growing incidence in the Malwa belt, especially in the Mansa area to which Ajit Inder Singh Mofar belongs, and facilities being created there for the treatment of the poor cancer patients, Badal said doctors treating his wife abroad told him that cancer was one of the biggest killers in the US and as such blaming water or increasing toxicity of soil because of the use of peticides and fertilisers could not be the reason for the high incidence of cancer in the Malwa belt. Scientists were still trying to find the cause of cancer.

He agreed that the treatment of cancer was expensive. Setting up special diagnostic and treatment hospitals in Bathinda and Mohali besides creating a fund to provide fixed financial relief for the treatment of cancer patients were the immediate initiatives of his government, he said, adding that let there be a society that should govern these funds and disburse them in a free and fair manner to the needy patients.

He said though the Centre has asked for the registry of cancer patients through the PGI and a couple of government hospitals in the state, he had already ordered the Department of Health and Family Welfare to conduct a census of cancer patients in the state.

Khaira said deaths due to cancer in his constituency, Bholath, were high as every third or fourth person dying in the area was reported to be suffering from the disease. Both Khaira and Mofar wanted that big diagnostic and treatment centres were beyond the reach of the common man and as such, the state must take steps to ensure that they also get proper and timely treatment.



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