India is strengthening all levels of cancer care through AB-PMJAY and HWCs: Dr. Harsh Vardhan on Elimination of Cervical Cancer by 2030
Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare addressed an audience of eminent doctors, professors of medical science, and stalwarts of the medical fraternity specializing in Cervical Pathology and Colposcopy through a video conference yesternight at the inaugural session of the 17th World Congress for Cervical Pathology and Colposcopy.
The event organized by the Indian Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology was inaugurated by Hon’ble Vice President Shri Venkaiah Naidu.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan congratulated the Indian Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology for pioneering training in colposcopy and treatment of precancerous lesions of the cervix and for bringing the prestigious World Congress for the first time to Asia. The theme of the World Congress “Eliminating Cervical Cancer: Call for Action” is aligned to the WHO call for Elimination of Cervical Cancer by 2030, he stated.
Speaking on the topic of cervical cancer, the Union Health Minister said, “It is the fourth most common cancer in women. It affects over half a million women across the world each year and kills a quarter of a million. It is tragic that one woman dies of cervical cancer every two minutes, making it one of the greatest threats to women’s health. The sad part is that our women are suffering and dying despite the fact that when diagnosed cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable forms of cancer, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively.
Cancers diagnosed in late stages can also be controlled with appropriate treatment and palliative care. With a comprehensive approach to prevent, screen, and treat, cervical cancer can be eliminated as a public health problem within a generation.”
Dr. Harsh Vardhan also highlighted the crucial role undertaken by India to stop cervical cancer heeding to WHO’s 2030 target: “I can proudly state that India is one of the few developing countries that have formulated the national cancer control program. As a leader in Asia, in 2016, we have launched the operational guidelines for screening of common cancers – cervical, breast, oral and Cervical Cancer. India along with 194 other countries has collectively resolved to work together for elimination of this major killer a goal which is achievable through 90% HPV vaccination coverage, 70% screening coverage, and 90% treatment for cervical precancer and cancer including access to palliative care.”
The Union Health Minister explained how the Government of India is offering the intervention to end Cancer through the two wings of the Ayushman Bharat Programme: “We all know that effective primary HPV vaccination and secondary prevention approaches can prevent most cervical cancer cases. Today, India is strengthening all levels of cancer care. Treatment of cancer and precancerous lesions is being made accessible to the economically vulnerable population through our Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna. Our primary health centers have now been transformed into wellness centers where screening is being undertaken on a massive scale.
Each year, we are training doctors and paramedical staff for further improvement of their skills and provision of quality care to underprivileged women of rural areas. In the last 7 years, 29 new A.I.I.M.S and 25 more Regional Cancer Centers have been developed with state-of-the-art facilities. All of our 542 medical colleges and 64 Post Graduate institutes are providing comprehensive care for pre-cancer and cancer patients. To add quality to the care, India has introduced a super specialty course in Gynecology.”
He concluded his speech on a note of elation that the scientific deliberations of this conference will help in formulating strategies for Asia and other developing countries outside the continent. He wished for the success of the IFCPC 2021 World Congress.