Pandemic Hampers Cancer Care : Dr Naresh Purohit

Bhopal 05.02.2022  Present pandemic has led to decreases and delays in identifying new cancers, as well as the delivery of treatment.
“If cancers are not diagnosed at an early stage, we could face rising death rates for several years to come,” said Dr Naresh Purohit – Advisior – National Cancer Control Programme .

Dr Purohit was speaking in a webinar organised by Bhopal Cancer Hospital on the occassion of World Cancer Day. He said that it is critical that adults with a family history of cancer and others who may be experiencing symptoms do not delay their screenings for the fear of being exposed to or contracting coronavirus. Medical practices now have numerous strategies in place to protect the safety and health of patients, doctors, nurses and other staff members.
National Coordinator for International Agency for Research On Cancer- Dr Purohit averred that thousands of people worldwide have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and its spread has impacted the healthcare system of nearly 186 countries. Cancer care in India has also been significantly affected. With 95% of cancer care centres present in urban areas and 70% of the population still living in villages, travelling for treatment has been a major stumbling block during the lockdown.

He stated that nearly 4.5 million Indians suffer from cancer and are in various stages of treatment and follow-ups, with an average of 1.5 million cases being added every year.
As per WHO’s Globocan 2020, nearly 8,00,000 deaths in India are attributed to cancer.

He added that cancer is the second largest cause of death in our country after cardiovascular diseases.

“Disruptions in cancer care due to the pandemic have led to delays in screening, diagnosis, treatment scheduling and appropriate therapy services, causing disease progression and poor prognosis. In fact, this has set our cancer targets back by a decade and nearly 1,00,000 cancer patients per month are expected to remain undiagnosed.” he pointed.

He averred that unlike the Covid-19 pandemic, the pandemic of non-communicable diseases like cancer is not so dramatically evident. The seemingly endless pandemic has already exposed our inefficient health care system. We need to now prepare ourselves to deal with the burden of chronic diseases. The health care system needs to evolve, and more focus needs to be laid on the primary health care system in our country.
He said while capacity- building at the tertiary healthcare level is important, we need to also strengthen our community outreach programs and our primary health care centres.

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