Nagaland Health Minister S. Pangnyu Phom, on Monday released the Monitoring Survey of Cancer Risk Factors and Health System Response in Northeast Region for Nagaland here at the Conference Hall, Secretariat, Kohima.
Minister S. Pangnyu Phom in his brief address after launching the report said, it is a first of its kind study that has been conducted in Nagaland. He said, the report will greatly enhance the understanding and our limitations in the fight against the burden of Cancer, which has long plagued the population of Nagaland.
As per the data, tobacco related cancer remains the highest with 39.3% while in females Cervix uteri is high at 16.4%.
The report further states that 1 in 50 males develop stomach cancer while in the case of females, it is 1 in 67.
Phom, emphasized on the need to introduce better healthcare services with focus on Cancer and Non-Communicable Diseases in the state wherein, screening and early detection facilities should become a priority, which will directly improve the health status of our society.
He urged the stake holders and all concerned departments to seriously consider the recommendations suggested in the report as this provides the key in taking the lead in our fight against the burden of Cancer Disease and Non-Communicable diseases.
Further, he said all concerned departments should collaborate and come out with an effective action plan that will help benefit the Naga Society in the long run.
Dr. V. Khamo, Principal Investigator, Consultant & State Nodal officer BSL Labs, Research & Ethics, Department of Health & family Welfare, in her brief report on findings of the study, said the primary objective of the study is to generate key cancer and other NCD related risk factors and estimate health system response in the state. Nagaland ranks 11 in cancer incidence in India and ranks 2nd highest in the world for nasopharynx.
The study was conducted between November 2019 and March 2021 covering Kohima and Dimapur districts and the targeted population for the survey was aged 18 yearrs and above from both rural and urban areas
Highlighting some of the key findings of the survey, Dr. V. Khamo said, cancer is among the top 5 leading causes of death in the state and the survey showed the prevalence of current tobacco use in Nagaland at 39.3%, Smokeless tobacco use 35% and smoked tobacco use at 13.2%. It was found that 28.4% of the respondents were current users of non-tobacco betel products in the form of pan masala, supari and tamul. The study reported that tamul is the highest among current users i.e., 16.0%.
On health seeking behaviour the study showed that 75% of the population were availing treatment at private health facilities, 57% of the cancer patients sought healthcare outside the state, 60.7% of cancer patients were self-financing and only 10.7% availed health insurance. The study also reported the poor facility in the government sector, where 25% of cancer patients never took treatment due to financial difficulties and also due to lack of awareness on health insurance schemes.
It reported, that none of the Community health centres (CHCs) in the state provide cancer screening services while over a quarter of the District hospitals provided screening facilities for all the three common cancers. Nearly 50% of the private secondary health facilities that were surveyed provided cancer screening and treatment facilities and 43.8% of the private health facilities provided HPV vaccination but none of these facilities are available in the government run hospitals.
The study emphasised and recommended on the need to make Cancer a notifiable disease, providing free Chemotherapy drugs to cancer patients since 25% of poor cancer patients cannot afford the drugs and do not take treatment. It also recommended that cancer screening facilities should be made available in all the CHCs and district hospitals and establish Cancer hospitals and cancer care facilities urgently in the government sector, since 2-3 cancer patients are dying every week.
Further, the study also recommended creating of public awareness, education at school level, providing counselling facilities and rehabilitation facilities for tobacco and alcohol related diseases
The survey was conducted as a part of Cancer Research in the Northeast Region (CaRes NER), a multidisciplinary programme for preventing and controlling cancer in the Northeastern states run by ICMR-NCDIR, Bangaluru.