Experts debate Punjab State Cancer Survey

The utility and credibility of the report on the "state-wide door-to-door campaign on cancer awareness and symptom-based early detection" that was submitted to the chief minister by the Health and Family Welfare Minister of Punjab, Madan Mohan Mittal, on February 10 continued to invite heated debate among various speakers at a dialogue on 'Punjab State Cancer Survey' organised by the Environmental Health Action Group, an initiative of the Kheti Virasat Mission at the Golden Jubilee Auditorium of Panjab University.

"If the Punjab government is really serious about the eradication of cancer from the state, it has to do much more than just conduct such surveys which are full of fallacies and errors.

At least a ban on the group-1 of cancer-causing substances, carcinogens, is a must, which will reduce the intensity of the problem to a great level in the years to come," said Hemant Goswami, a speaker from the Cancer-Free World.

He further said, "The worldwide industry of insecticides, pesticides and weedicides has a very strong commercial network in India and it is because of the commercially-driven scientists who campaign in the favour of such harmful cancer-causing substances. The identification and isolation of such scientists is the biggest solution of the problem that Punjab faces today."

The issue of free treatment to cancer patients under the chief minister's Cancer Relief Fund also invited strong remarks from many speakers at the discussion. "The government provides a 1.5-lakh grant to each cancer patient under its Cancer Relief Fund but in reality, there is rarely a sanction above Rs 20,000. Also, the clerical staff deployed for the scheme does not accept bills which are worth below the sanctioned amount, so the poor patient has to wait for the bill to reach the sanctioned amount by which time, the major part of the expensive treatment gets completed," said Gurpreet Chandbaja, President, Bhai Kanhaiya Cancer Roko Society, Faridkot.

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