Assam is scheduled to launch a cancer care foundation, the first for any state government in India, on Monday for making treatment of the disease more affordable and ensuring care for patients till survival. The Indian Council for Medical Research had in 2016 reported 31,825 new cancer cases in Assam. But health officials in the State said the actual number of cancer cases could be twice that number since most of those who are detected with the disease leave the State in order to access better cancer care. “A recent study found that more than 70 percent of the cost incurred by patients getting treated is due to peripheral expenses such as stay, travel and food. This was the reason our government initiated the non-profit Assam Cancer Care Foundation (ACCF), a pioneering model for making cancer care more affordable and address all aspects from awareness to end-of-life care,” Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam Health Minister, said. ACCF is in partnership with Tata Trusts, which has committed to providing ₹830 crore for the program while the State government will provide ₹1080 crore, Sarma said.
The cancer care project has been designed to address three aspects of cancer care – service, education and research – with the objective of shifting care closer to patients’ homes. Accordingly, five district hospitals would be providing diagnostics and day care follow-up. These hospitals are in Darrang, Dima Hasao, Goalpara, Golaghat and Sivasagar districts. Cancer centers adjacent to four existing and eight upcoming medical colleges across Assam will also provide comprehensive treatment and education, Sarma said. Cancer centers at two major medical college hospitals – Guwahati and Dibrugarh – have been tasked with advance and complex care along with cancer research. “The facilities will provide treatment at rates on par with or below the Central government health scheme rates. It is expected that a large number of patients will receive cashless treatment at these facilities through Atal Amrit Abhiyan and Ayushman Bharat schemes,” a health officer said on Sunday after Sarma and industrialist Ratan Tata inaugurated a digital information nerve center at Guwahati Medical College Hospital. – The Hindu