PHCs have key role in preventing cancer deaths, say experts

Speakers at ‘CanQuer’ symposium enunciate the necessity of rural healthcare facilities to come up with stronger awareness drives for early detection and prevention of cancer

Published: 09th November 2019 06:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th November 2019 06:45 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

KOCHI: The country’s primary health centres (PHCs) play a key role in checking cancer deaths even as increasing reliance on technology to fight the disease makes an agency like Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) vital, said industry experts at CanQuer, a symposium hosted by Cochin Cancer Research Centre (CCRC) and KSUM on Friday. It is the third annual symposium being hosted by CCRC and KSUM. Delayed diagnosis is killing two-thirds of India’s cancer patients. This can be checked only if rural healthcare facilities come up with stronger awareness drives about the malignant disease, said speakers at the symposium.

Such PHC-centric programmes need to be held regularly for detecting signs of cancer at the earliest. This, in turn, will lead to prompt diagnosis and treatment, according to speakers at the inaugural session of the three-day event at KSUM’s Integrated Startup Complex at Kalamassery.

According to experts, the country’s Primary Health Centres (PHCs) are generally not staffed enough to let their workers attend training sessions spanning three months to gain basic expertise to join the fight against cancer. “Availability of experts to groom them is another issue,” said an expert.

Dr Gauravi Mishra, who heads the Department of Preventive Oncology at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, stressed the need for a standardised module to battle the set of diseases defined by abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade the whole body.

According to Dr Sunil Anand, ECHO India, virtual teaching can increase the efficacy of cancer awareness in the country. “Hardly 40 per cent of medical practitioners can hold video conferences amid improper functioning of India’s healthcare system that has otherwise an ideal pyramidal structure,” he said.
Dr Moni Kuriakose of CCRC (Ernakulam district) said Kerala had no less than 80 cancer centres, the density of which is on par with developed nations. “Yet, they require thorough integration with the PHCs for improved performance,” he added.

Savitha Kuttan, founder-CEO of Ominicuris, which is India’s largest CME platform, and Guruprasad Thimmaiah of Novo Nordisk made presentations.

KSUM Chief Executive Officer Dr Saji Gopinath said Kerala’s agency for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities had “great potential” in grooming startups that are into medicine, more so cancer care. “Already KSUM is working with the state government in its efforts to strengthen PHCs through projects such as Aardram that aim at people-friendly health delivery,” he said. “Only recently, an Odisha-based researcher’s startup on cancer drug delivery system that KSUM mentored won recognition at Beijing,” he added.

The day-one sessions at CanQuer included ‘Comprehensive Digital Platform for Patient Education and Tracking’ and ‘Integration of Primary and Tertiary Cancer Care’.

Fighting the fatal disease

● Delayed diagnosis is killing two-thirds of India’s cancer patients
● Virtual teaching can increase the efficacy of cancer awareness in the country
● Kerala had no less than 80 cancer centres, the density of which is on par with developed nations.

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