In Haryana, a state witnessing rapid industrialization and poor sanitation, cancer deaths went up from 3,380 in 2015 to 4,592 in 2017, the highest in the country.
The highest number of cancer deaths last year took place in Faridabad district (771), followed by 501 deaths in Yamuna Nagar, 440 in Jind and 354 in Rohtak district. Panchkula district had the least number of cancer deaths (five) last year.
In 2016, India had recorded an estimated 3.9 million cancer cases. Worst affected states, however, did not include Haryana. The numbers were the highest in UP, Maharashtra and Bihar. So, what went wrong?
A report by the India Today points out the grave lapse in Haryana's rapid industrial development in Gurugram, Faridabad,Panipat, Sonepat, Karnal, Rewari. These districts, the report says, are generating huge amount of industrial waste which is disposing of directly in rivers without undergoing recycling process in sewage treatment plants (STPs).
"Cities like Gurugram has three STPs but their capacities to recycle are only 160 million gallon daily (MGD), while the city is generating over 400 MGD per day of sewerage and industrial liquid wastes," the report adds.
Improper sanitation, excessive use of fertilisers contaminate the soil and water, add to the crisis.
In its budget for 2017-18, the Haryana government had proposed Rs 3839.90 crore for health and family welfare which is an increase of 15.52 per cent over the RE outlay of Rs 3323.95 crore in 2016-17. The State Government had also envisaged opening a medical college in every district.
The state government also spent over Rs 2.27 crore from January 2015 to January 2018 for treatment of cancer patients under various schemes.
According to a recent epidemiology paper in The Lancet, nearly 1 million new cases of cancer are being diagnosed in India every year. This is still low compared to cancer rates in the West—adjusted for age, for instance, India’s combined male and female incidence is about a quarter of that of Europe. Yet, the mortality burden is similar to that of high-income countries.
Between 6-7 lakh people died of cancer in India in 2012, according to the study. “Such figures are partly indicative of low rates of early-stage detection and poor treatment outcomes,” says Prof Mohandas K. Mallath of the Tata Medical Centre, Calcutta, who led the study
Statistics says cancer deaths in Haryana have only gone up every year. With the maximum share in overall deaths due to cancer in the country, Haryana stood at 39 per cent, according to a data released in October 2017.
Approximately 17.3 lakh new cancer cases are being estimated by the year 2020 in India, therefore with the present trends Haryana might have around 6.5 lakh cancer cases by then.
Breast cancer has a majority share of cancer cases and is the leading cause for deaths in women suffering with non-communicable disease. According to an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) report, breast cancer shares 10% of all cases.
By that rate, Haryana may report around 2 to 2.5 lakh cases of breast cancer alone.
With a population of more than two crore, according to the 2011 census, Haryana does not have a single hospital specifically for cancer. Patients have to rely on treatment in AIIMS, Delhi, and PGIMS, Chandigarh.
Quoting an official from Gurugram civil hospital, a report states, "There is no ward in the state-run civil hospitals in any of the 22 districts. Developed district like Gurugram, which had a cancer ward in civil hospital till first half of last year, has been shut down since due to resignation of a cancer specialist.. only PGIMS Rohtak has a cancer ward in the entire state. As a result, large number of cancer patients are dependent on AIIMS, Delhi and PGIMS, Chandigarh."
The state government does not provide any direct financial assistance to cancer patients, which further adds to the problem. Treatment for cancer is expensive. With public hospitals limited in number, and overcrowded with patients, cancer patients often lose out on early diagnosis, and subsequent treatment. Lack of proper funds and awareness also plays a significant role in the growing number of cancer cases.
(Inputs from agencies)