Global health experts, including the Deputy World Health Organization (WHO) representative to India at the 2nd Cancer E-summit, lauded the country’s efforts to prevent cancer and emphasized the need to break the silos of cancer care and address it with a ‘continuum of care’ approach. The summit, organized by the Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council, is powered by Manipal Hospitals, Dwarka, New Delhi.
“Cancer leaves a catastrophic impact on people and about half of the cancer cases can be prevented. Evidence has shown that tobacco causes 27% of all cancer-related deaths. Viral infections such as hepatitis and human papillomavirus (HPV) cause about 20% in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). India’s National Viral Hepatitis Control Program covers 91% of its population with hepatitis B immunization and that, along with providing cancer treatment through Ayushman Bharat, is commendable. A robust monitoring and evaluation of programs and investment in cancer surveillance is important – India’s national cancer registry program needs to be strengthened as it currently covers only 12% of the population,” Ms. Payden, Deputy WHO Representative to India, said in a statement.
“We are glad to have India as a participating country in the WHO Global Initiative on Childhood Cancer. WHO advocates continuum of care for cancer and has adopted a global strategy to accelerate cervical cancer elimination that sets a 90-70-90 targets by 2030: 90% of girls fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by the age of 15; 70% of women screened by the age of 35, and again by the age of 45; and 90% of women identified with cervical disease receive treatment,” she added.
Noting the changing trends in cancer prevalence, Padma Bhushan awardee Dr. Suresh H Advani, Consultant Oncologist, Jaslok Hospital, said, “The Bombay Cancer registry shows there is a 2% increase in breast cancer cases every year. On the other hand, cervical cancer cases in major cities are dropping. However, the vaccination to prevent infection in India is quite universal for hepatitis B but so much for HPV vaccines. We see a poor trend in follow-up visits and despite widespread information availability, there is no let down in tobacco consumption.”
Currently, more than 230 cancer centers, research institutes, patient groups, and charitable institutions are members of the national cancer grid. However, more needs to be done for quality cancer care in the hinterlands of India.