National

PM-DevINE Scheme to give a huge boost cancer care in North East India

Dedicated Services for the Management of Paediatric and Adult Haematolymphoid Cancers to be established at Dr. B. Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI), Guwahati at an estimated cost of Rs 129 crore

DELHI, FEBRUARY 24: The Population Based Cancer Registry of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) reveals that the incidence of cancer in India is highest in the North-Eastern Region. The national average incidence of cancer every year varies from 90-120 per lakh population, whereas in the North-eastern Region it is as high as 220-270 per lakh population. As per the ICMR report, more than 45,000 new cancer patients are detected in the North-eastern Region each year.

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Given the need for cancer care in the Northeast, Dr. B. Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) was set up in 1974 at Guwahati, Assam as a private hospital by a voluntary organization for the treatment of cancer patients. In the year 1980, the Institute was recognized by the Govt. of India as a Regional Cancer Centre for Treatment & Research and since November 1989, BBCI has received the support of the Government of Assam, North-Eastern Council and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India. In September 2017, the Institute was transferred to DAE under the administrative control of Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai along with existing personnel, assets and liabilities. Today, as many as 14,000 new and 2,00,000 old patients with cancer visit BBCI every year for diagnosis, treatment, and check-up.

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BBCI has the state-of-the-art facility for treatment of common cancers of the North-East. However, statistics show that, treatment facilities are still limited in the region. As per the ICMR report, 95% of patients from Sikkim, 58% from Nagaland, 16% from Manipur, 13% from Meghalaya go out of the North-Eastern Region for cancer treatment. Moreover, some cancers like paediatric and adult Haematolymphoid (blood cancers) malignancies are among the curable cancers and, if treated optimally, patients can survive to live a long and fruitful life. However, the expertise to treat these cancers are restricted to some specialised centres in the country, one of which is the Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai. Establishment of a dedicated paediatric oncology block in the NE Region will generate human resources and expertise to take care of these cancers.

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The Union Budget 2022-23 included a new scheme, “Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North-East”, in short, PM-DevINE, to be implemented through the North-Eastern Council, Ministry of Development of the North-Eastern Region. The objective of the new Scheme is to fund infrastructure, in the spirit of PM GatiShakti, as well as support social development projects conceptualised based on felt needs of the North-East.

For the year 2022-23, an initial allocation of Rs 1,500 crore was made for PM-DevINE and one of the major projects identified for starting during the year is “Establishment of Dedicated Services for the Management of Paediatric and Adult Haematolymphoid Cancers in North-East India, to be located at Dr. B. Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) Guwahati” at an estimated cost of Rs 129 crore. This initiative is expected to give a huge boost to cancer care in the Region given that in the last 11 years, 3,855 childhood and adult Haematolymphoid cancer patients reported to BBCI for treatment. Moreover, due to dearth of adequate facilities other than the BBCI in the North-East, there may be many more patients who need this specialised care but do not get it close to home and must travel to other centres across the country.

Once dedicated paediatric oncology block is established, approximately 1,000 patients annually can be offered treatment for this group of ailments, which will significantly reduce the patient expenditure and benefit the people of the North-Eastern Region immensely.

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