NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant has urged the government to work towards evolving low-cost treatment of cancer for poor and underprivileged.
“Over one million new cases of cancer are being reported every year in India, and a large number of these patients are below the poverty line who cannot afford the costly treatment of cancer presently available in India. Something needs to be done for these people on priority basis,” he said.
Kant was speaking at the inaugural function of the two-day Oncology Summit organized in New Delhi on Friday. The meet was organized by Varian Medical Systems, a US-based manufacturer of medical devices and software for treatment of cancer.
“We, at NITI Aayog, are working towards developing model concession agreements so that both government and private bodies can set up cancer care units at district hospitals,” he remarked.
People fear cancer, and rightly so. The need of the hour is to find out the treatment methodology that is best suited to Indian body type, he remarked.
“A lot of research needs to be done on this. Once we know what sort of drugs and mode of treatment is suitable for our people, probably the expenditure on cancer treatment can be brought down to a great extent,” he said.
“Further, oncologists must also list down the risk factors for cancer and lifestyle changes that can prevent the onset of this disease so that less and less people get afflicted by it,” he added.
Kant stated that while efforts were on to strengthen infrastructure and services using the combined strength of public and private sector, the maintenance effort by the government was sorely lacking on this front.
“We also need a strong health insurance scheme so that patients belonging to middle and lower-income groups can afford to go for cancer treatment which is very costly at present,” he said.
“The actual challenge is to provide a cost-effective cancer treatment so that more and more patients can avail of it. Cost can be brought down by ensuring that the patient is treated in the right way,” agreed Deepak Khuntia of Varian Medical Systems.
The focus of the summit was on radiation oncology, medical oncology, radiosurgery, brachytherapy and proton therapy. A number of oncologists spoke on these issues during the summit. The company also showcased a number of path-breaking equipment used in treatment of cancer.