Harsh Vardhan urges lawmakers to run anti-tobacco campaign to combat cancer

'Most of the cancers are preventable but it needs a change in lifestyle,' Harsh Vardhan said.

New Delhi: Asserting that most of the cancers can be prevented and also cured if diagnosed early, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday called upon the MPs to run mass movements against the use of tobacco products, alcohol and also about the food habits causing cancer.

Replying to a short duration discussion in Rajya Sabha on the need to ensure basic facilities and affordable treatment to cancer patients, Harsh Vardhan said India is one of the founding countries of an international consortium to combat cancer.

"Most of the cancers are preventable but it needs a change in lifestyle. We need to enhance the movement against Tobacco, cigarette and alcohol. We also need to run movement against the wrong food habits beside shunning tobacco," he said assuring the House that the government would provide every technical support, equipment and other facilities to the cancer patients.

Listing various central health schemes to help cancer patients get affordable treatment, he said 482 centres with modern equipment and facilities are operative for cancer treatment throughout the country.

"There are 164 AMRIT pharmacies under the AMRIT scheme through which medicines and implants are given at a subsidised rate. The rates of anti-cancer drugs have been drastically reduced. We are also taking care of palliative care," he said.

Earlier, participating in the debate, the members suggested raising tax on tobacco items, ensuring affordable treatment and setting up early detection centres at the district level to battle cancer.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad pitched for more cancer institutes and sought to know from the government whether various projects approved by UPA for cancer patients were completed.

"In the case of non-communicable diseases, control and prevention is more important. When we were in the government we focussed both of them. Early diagnosis could control cancer. I lost my father and father-in-law to cancer. My father passed away 20 days after he was diagnosed with cancer. Luckily I could save my wife because she was diagnosed early," he said.

Initiating the discussion, Samajwadi Party's Vishambhar Prasad Nishad drew the attention of the government towards inadequate health facility for the treatment of cancer, unaffordable cost of medicines and demanded that every district hospital should have cancer treatment facilities. He also advocated banning tobacco products.

Congress' Wansuk Syiem, BJP's Vikas Mahatme and several other members stressed the need to create awareness among the people about cancer.

BJD's Prasanna Acharya said early detection of cancer was crucial and urged the government to set up a cancer detection institute and preliminary treatment centre in every district where the cancer was rampant.

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