Provide free chemotherapy to poor cancer patients, recommends survey
Kohima, Aug. 9 (EMN): Cancer screening facilities and chemotherapy should be made available in all the community health centres and district hospitals as 25% of poor cancer patients cannot afford the drugs due to financial difficulties, a survey has revealed.
Atleast “25% never took treatment due to financial difficulties and 90% were government employees and their dependence will be getting reimbursement from the government,” Principal Investigator Consultant and State Nodal Officer of BSL labs, Research and Ethics, department of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Vinotsole Khamo, stated while presenting the report on monitoring survey of cancer risk factors and health system response in Northeast region for Nagaland.
The findings of the survey, conducted with health facilities (PHC or UPHC, CHC/ District Hospital and private facilities) as one of the tools, showed none of the CHCs provided cancer screening services while only over a quarter of the district hospitals provided screening facilities for the common cancers. It showed there was no facility in the government sector, Khamo said.
The targeted population for the survey was age 18 or above residing in their usual residence. Both rural and urban areas were covered and it was conducted between November 2019 and March 2021 covering the districts of Kohima and Dimapur.
She also said that the Northeast is a hotspot for cancer in the country.
According to the National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP), there has been consistent high incidence, mortality, and cumulative risks of developing cancer in the Northeastern Region (NER) of India (Year 2020).
The Population-Based Cancer Registry (PBCR) showed that Nagaland (data collection 2012-2016) is ranked 11 in the country in terms of Cancer Incidence Rate (CIR). The CIR per lakh population is 124 male and 88 female. The cumulative risk of developing cancer in a lifetime is 1 in 7 male and 1 in 10 female.
Meanwhile, the PBCR Nagaland data collection from 2012-2018, showed an average death in a year from cancer was 126 and the number of new cases diagnosed in a year was 713. Nagaland ranks second highest in the world for nasopharynx.
Nagas lack health-seeking behaviour
She said that Nagas don’t have health-seeking behaviour.
‘We don’t like to go to the hospital unless we are really sick. We get to the hospital only when we cannot do anything,’ she said.
The survey showed that 29.6% of respondents never had their blood pressure measured in their life. Among those with raised blood pressure, 20.6% had their blood pressure under control. 42.2% of the respondents had never measured their blood glucose level. Of those with high glucose levels, 45% had their sugar under control. 57% of the cancer patients sought health care outside the state. 75% were availing treatment at private health facilities. 60.7% of cancer patients were self-financing and 10.7% were covered by health insurance.
Nearly 50% of the private secondary health facilities that were surveyed provided cancer screening and cancer treatment facilities. 43.8% of the private health facilities provided HPV vaccination, according to the survey.
“It is recommended for creating awareness of the availability of healthcare insurance schemes to the public, NGOs, and SHGs through healthcare workers, TV, radio, newspapers and social media,” the survey stated.
Prevalence of current tobacco use is 39.3%
Key findings of the survey showed that the prevalence of current tobacco use in Nagaland is 39.3%. Smokeless tobacco use is 35% and smoked tobacco use is 13.2%. The mean age of tobacco initiation was 20.3 years.
Self-attempts to quit smoking was 13.8% and advised to quit tobacco use by doctor/ health worker was 3.2% only. 28.4% of the respondents were current users of non-tobacco betel products in the form of ‘pan masala, supari, and tamul.’ The use of tamul was highest among current users (16.0%).
2.5% are daily alcohol users
The survey showed that 2.5% were daily alcohol users. 0.5% felt the need for a drink first thing in the morning every day. 6.1% of the respondents engaged in heavy episodic drinking and 2.4% of the respondents had been advised to quit alcohol use by doctors/health workers.
It was also learned that 85.1% of the respondents consumed preserved/salt curetted and fermented products. Over 91% of surveyed adults reported having sufficient levels of physical activity. Either fruits or vegetables were consumed 5.8 days/week.
The prevalence of raised fasting blood glucose was 2.5%. The prevalence of raised blood pressure was reported to be 37.8% in males and 30.1% in females. It was found to be slightly higher in adults from urban than in rural regions and 54.7% of the respondents were pre-hypertensive. 40% of the respondents had central obesity. 81.2% used solid fuel in rural areas and 49.8% of the rural population used wood as cooking fuel.
She expressed hope that the findings from this survey would enable policymakers and stakeholders to make best decisions to address prevention and control of cancer and non-communicable diseases in the state.