Emphasising the need for preventive health care at IHW Council’s Breast Cancer Action Day Summit, ministers and renowned lawmakers today called for a coordinated and multisectoral approach to expand the reach of awareness, diagnosis, and treatment.
With the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), the Government is working on a mission mode to expand the reach of healthcare services for breast cancer and other major diseases in the next few years. MoS Lekhi gave three pillars of preventing death caused by breast cancer: a) health promotion among women; b) timely diagnosis; and c) comprehensive treatment.
Meanwhile, health experts cautioned against the changing lifestyle imitating the West as a major reason for the higher incidence of breast cancer in India. One Indian woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 4 minutes while every 8 minutes one Indian woman dies of breast cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2020 alone, 2.3 million women across the world were diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 6 lakh died.
“Rapid spread of chronic and debilitating non-communicable diseases causes about 60% deaths in India. Breast cancer accounts for about 27% of all cancers in women in India and impacts the age group of the 40s the most, as against 55-60 in advanced countries. Awareness is very important as it leads to an early determination of disease. I believe there are three pillars of preventing death caused by breast cancer: a) health promotion among women; b) timely diagnosis; and c) comprehensive treatment. We must make men aware of breast cancer as well – they are important for healthcare and support mechanisms. Besides, community-based organisations need to be strengthened as much as media campaigns – we will need people, health experts and others to join the efforts that are important to devise risk reduction strategy; I would be happy to extend any help IHW Council needs for campaigns around health promotion and diagnosis,” says Meenakshi Lekhi, Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, Government of India.
Dr Munjpara Mahendrabhai Kalubhai, Minister of State for AYUSH and Women & Child Development, Government of India, says, “Cancer cases in India are growing at an alarming speed; it is the biggest cancer killer among women in India and more and more women are being affected. Whether it is a city woman or a woman from a village, the problem is common. We must think of ways to channelise them towards adopting a healthy lifestyle that will reduce the risk of cancer such as shunning processed food, practising meditation and yoga or any other form of regular exercise, and knowledge of herbs and spices that are suitable for the tropical environment and has helped people in and around India live a healthy life for several centuries. I also urge the medical fraternity to expand the treatment of breast cancer to the remotest of areas. Better diagnostic and treatment facilities are needed and Ayushman Bharat has helped women in rural and remote areas.”
“Earlier, breast cancer cases were rising by 2% every year but now we see 35 new cases per 100,000 population in Delhi every year. India has seen a huge transformation in terms of treatment facilities, though it remains underfunded. State governments need to improve awareness of breast cancer and it is time to move health facilities more into the interiors of India,” says Dr Vinod Raina, Executive Director- Medical Oncology & Hematology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute.
The month-long event is being organised on the occasion of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.