BHUBANESWAR: In a bid to enhance early detection of cancer, particularly among the unaware and vulnerable sections, a mass screening programme is set to be launched soon across slum clusters in cities and towns of the State to identify people suffering from the disease.
The massive exercise will take off from Bhubaneswar and Cuttack and gradually expand to the rest 39 towns and cities included in National Urban Health Mission (NUHM). To be undertaken by the State Health Department, involving the noncommunicable diseases cell and NUHM in association with civic bodies, the programme aims to not only screen the entire population for cancer but also generate awareness among them to identify signs and symptoms of the disease early so that it can be treated and cured.
The programme would focus on screening population for three types of cancer - oral, breast and cervix - that are highly prevalent in the State. The slum dwellers are particularly vulnerable to the diseases due to high tobacco use, lack of proper hygiene and sanitation. Besides lack of awareness, they also delay seeking treatment for fear of costs or due to sheer neglect.
The slum population constitutes nearly one fourth of the total population of the State. More than one in five urban households in the State resides in a slum. The State Capital Bhubaneswar with a total population of 8.40 lakh has more than 35.7 per cent or 3.01 lakh residing in slums. Cuttack has over 27.94 per cent of its total 6.01 lakh population living in slums.
The programme would adopt a two-pronged approach wherein cancer experts, paramedics and counsellors will hold camps in specific sectors and screen the entire population there. While those identified with typical signs and symptoms would be immediately referred to hospitals, a major exercise would be to sensitise the slum population about prevention and early detection.
“ASHA workers, ANMs and women health workers will be trained in cancer detection so as to identify signs among persons during routine visits. The residents will be educated on quitting tobacco and maintaining hygiene and sanitation while undertaking self-examination of mouth and breast through simple procedures. Cancer survivors will also be involved in the initiative as their presence and stories will remove fear of cancer among people and motivate them for adopting early detection procedures,” State Nodal officer on NCD Dr PKB Patnaik said.