Karnataka Health & Family Welfare Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao unveils Bengaluru-Declaration of FICCI Cancer Care task force

Minister calls upon government, health policymakers and industry to partner for reducing cancer burden, promote greater equity, and integrate cancer control into state health and development agenda

Karnataka Health & Family Welfare Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao unveils Bengaluru-Declaration of FICCI Cancer Care task force

Bengaluru, September 15, 2023: Mr Dinesh Gundu Rao, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka, today unveiled a comprehensive Nine-Target strategy as part of the Bengaluru-Declaration of FICCI Cancer Care Task Force. This initiative is dedicated to significantly reducing premature deaths caused by cancer, improving the quality of life as well as elevating cancer survival rates in the State.

The Minister addressed ‘Regional Roundtable- ‘Road Map for Making Cancer Care Affordable and Accessible in India’, organized by FICCI, jointly with the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Govt of Karnataka and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of India, in association with HCG Cancer Hospitals, supported by Pfizer and EY.

Rao said, "The number of increasing cancer incidences is a worrying fact. Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases adversely affecting both patients and their families, as they not only undergo financial repercussions because of the expensive treatment but psychological as well. This is something that needs to be looked into as a priority."

The Minister apprised the gathering and added, “Karnataka is a progressive State, has been a leader in the National Cancer Grid and has been partnering with ICMR and NCDIR to create a comprehensive cancer registry as well as with industry like HCG Cancer Hospital for a comprehensive cancer care program. We all need to collaborate to enhance early detection and screening by bringing cancer diagnosis to doorstep, both in urban and rural areas.”
He also urged everyone to work towards reducing the intake of tobacco and carcinogenic food in our diets.

Anil Kumar T K, Principal Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka shared key focus areas for the government and industry to work on including awareness and education on lifestyle management, improving quality of screening, along with timely treatment after detection as well as strengthening the continuum of care. He also shared that Karnataka introduced comprehensive laws on smoke-free environments and has been recognized by the United Nations for its efforts towards this.

U T Khader Fareed, Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly said, “Awareness has to be one of the main focus areas to control cancer along with preventive measures like early detection to prevent diagnosis at later stages. The involvement of the people is very important since change of the mindset brings change in the society.”

Dr L Swasticharan, Addl. DDG & Director (EMR), Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of India said, “We should help the country achieve its sustainable goal by reducing the morbidity associated with cancer and work towards R&D for medicines to prolong the life of patients. It is also crucial to increase awareness against tobacco and alcohol, specifically amongst younger population who are usually misguided.”

Raj Gore, Co-Chair, FICCI Task Force Cancer Care and CEO, Healthcare Global Enterprises Limited (HCG) shared, “The war with the pandemic might have waned, but we are still far away from winning the war with one of the most dreaded diseases, Cancer. No other disease is comparable in its devastating impact on the life of patients as cancer. India already ranks 3rd after China and US in new cancer cases reported. In the last year alone, more than 8 lakh Indians were estimated to have lost their lives to this deadly disease. Karnataka is one of the first states to establish a cancer control committee by the government of Karnataka. It is also among the first states to declare cancer as a notifiable disease. Now it’s time to join forces for all stakeholders to make coordinated efforts to mitigate and control this looming cancer epidemic.”

D Randeep, Commissioner, Health and Family Welfare Services, Government of Karnataka; Dr Riyaz Basha, Registrar, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Karnataka and  R Ramesh Babu of the State Government of Andhra Pradesh were also present on the occasion.

The Roundtable was attended by various experts from the oncology sector, including senior clinicians, hospital administrators, diagnostics, medtech, health-tech and pharma companies as well as civil society and start-ups.

Significant recommendations were shared by Dr V Lokesh, Director, Kidwai Institute, Bangalore; Dr Rakesh Mittal, Oncologist and Member of Management Committee, Indian Cancer Society, Karnataka; and Dr Vishal Rao, Group Director for Head & Neck Surgical Oncology and Robotic Surgery at HCG Cancer Centre, Bengaluru; Vineet Gupta, Co-Chair, FICCI Task Force on Cancer Care & Director-Government Affairs, Varian Medical Systems International India; Aditi Mehta, Category Lead, Oncology, Pfizer India and others.

Srimayee Chakraborty, Partner-Healthcare, EY Business Consulting, India, highlighted that Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are among top 5 states with one of highest overall crude incidence rate of cancer above all India average of 122 cases per lakh population. She also shared that southern states have relatively better access to cancer care with high penetration of Comprehensive Cancer Centres indicating better positioning per lakh of population.

The FICCI Cancer Care Task Force also requested the Government of Karnataka to provide emphasis on the below key focus areas to improve the status of cancer care in the State-
•          Drive screening coverage for cervical, breast and oral cancers in a significant manner. Also embed a robust gatekeeping and referral pathway for positive screened patients
•          Focus on increasing access to comprehensive cancer care facilities including medical, surgical and radiation oncology
•          Expand coverage under the Ayushman Bharat- Arogya Karnataka scheme to also include advanced treatment options
•          Evaluate the creation of State Level Advisory Body to enable implementation of Standardized Treatment Protocols and eligibility criteria for empanelment of hospitals to provide cancer care under AB-ArK scheme
•          Focus on creating mass awareness about risk factors (beyond tobacco use), prevention, symptoms, options for diagnosis and treatment.
Earlier, the FICCI-EY Report 2022, developed under FICCI Task Force on Cancer Care Infrastructure highlighted that it is imperative that the country focuses on effective prevention, targeted screening, and large-scale awareness as the primary response to addressing the disease burden by avoiding the unnecessary stigma attached to cancer.