Chennai: ‘Cancer is the second biggest cause of death in India. It has killed more than double the number of people in 2016 than in 1990,’ said Vice President Venkaiah Naidu after inaugurating Apollo Hospitals’ Proton Cancer Centre here. Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and Apollo Hospitals Group executive chairman Dr Prathap C Reddy were present at the inauguration of South East Asia’s first Proton Therapy Centre launched by Apollo Hospitals in Taramani.
Proton therapy is a specialised form of radiotherapy that is extremely precise and destroys cancer cells alone with minimal damage to healthy tissue. Speaking at the launch, Venkaiah Naidu said, ‘The Indian Council of Medical Research has found that while 3.82 lakh people died from cancer in 1990, the number jumped to 8.30 lakh in 2016. The study noted that all cancers together contributed to 8.03 per cent of the total deaths in India.’
The Vice-President called for the private sector to reduce their cost of treatment and make healthcare affordable. ‘Medical profession is a mission, not for commission. I appreciate the private sector for making healthcare accessible. But it is the duty of not just the government but also the private sector to make treatment affordable also in addition to making it accessible.’
Naidu said that this problem of expensive healthcare can be surmounted by initiating universal healthcare schemes. ‘The government of India has set a target of increasing health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of the GDP by 2025 to facilitate the healthcare scheme – Ayushman Bharat. It is going to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families and establish 1.20 lakh health and wellness centres across India,’ he explained.
Highlighting the importance of Chennai in healthcare sector in India, he said, ‘Chennai is a happening city. Medical tourism is on the rise. Earlier people of the world used to go to America for kidney transplantation and liver transplantation. But now, they are coming to Chennai. The Proton Cancer Centre here will cater to not only local population but also South East Asia.’
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami highlighted how Tamilnadu and especially Chennai is in the forefront of all healthcare indices in the country through the various government schemes. Palaniswami said, ‘The Chief Minister’s comprehensive health insurance policy has benefited 27.73 lakh people. In 2018, the insurance cover per family was raised to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 2 lakh.’
He added that Tamilandu is a model State in India for cancer treatment with state art of equipment and methods practiced here in government hospitals. Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam adviced people to follow the example set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and practice yoga and exercise to avoid cancer and lead a healthy life. He said, ‘Cancer is disease caused by lifestyle changes, societal changes, and environmental problems and it can be prevented by making changes in our daily life. Preventive measures and right treatment can overcome cancer. So, atleast once every year, people should undergo cancer screening to detect it early and begin treatment.’
Apollo Hospitals Group executive chairman Dr Prathap C Reddy in his keynote address said it was dream come true to launch the Proton Cancer Therapy Centre in Chennai. He lauded and remembered Dr Shantha’s contribution in cancer treatment for bringing the first Cancer Institute in India to Chennai.