The government is giving keen attention to research for combating cancer through national as well as international collaborations and plans to establish 1.5 lakh health and wellness clinics in the country by 2022, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
The minister said that at present there are 482 centres in the country for cancer treatment with 695 teletherapy machines.
He was replying to a discussion on the need to ensure basic facilities and affordable treatment to cancer patients raised by Samajwadi Party's Chandrapal Singh Yadav.
"Health and Wellness clinics are another component of Ayushman Bharat scheme. By December 31, 2022, we want to establish 1.5 lakh health and wellness clinics out of which, 19,000-20,000 have already been established and by March 31 (2020) this figure will reach 40,000," Harsh Vardhan said.
The minister said the 'National Cancer Grid' initiative for uniform treatment of cancer patients was being closely monitored by the Prime Minister, with 177 institutions, activists, patients and advocacy groups associated with it.
He shared that eight institutions have already been dedicated towards this objective, while two are in the offing in Odisha and Bihar.
He underlined that India was one of the seven founding member countries among the 40 nations globally which have established an international cancer genome consortium, and are engaged in extensive work in the area through the consortium.
He observed that 60-70 per cent of the common cancers detected in India are preventable and highlighted the significance of early diagnosis.
During the discussion, members of various parties demanded that cancer detection and treatment centres be opened in every district of the country to help mitigate the problem of the poor suffering from the disease.
They also sought increase in government spending on healthcare and reduction in cost of cancer treatment and medicines.
Congress leader and former health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad sought the status on various programmes of erstwhile UPA government for boosting infrastructure, human resources and awareness in health care sector particularly killer diseases cancer, diabetics and hypertension.
He told the House that the UPA government had give Rs 5 crore each to 640 districts for early detection of killer diseases and Rs 120 crore per hospital to states for making those as centres for treating such diseases.
He suggested the government provide more funds for creating infrastructure, human resources and awareness for early detection of these diseases.
Jogen Chowdhury (Trinamool Congress) said more women in India die of breast and cervical cancer. He called for making HPV vaccine part of the immunisation programme.
"Why is it not a part of the national immunisation programme," he asked.
Prasanna Acharya (BJD) said everyone cannot afford to go to private hospitals and the government needs to set up cancer-detection institutes in each district where the disease is more rampant.
Various members including Birendra Prasad Baishya of the AGP, Binoy Viswam from CPI, Narendra Jadhav (Nominated) and Ramdas Athawale from the RPI (A) also spoke on the issue and gave suggestions to improve facilities for cancer treatment.
Jadhav said he was himself was afflicted by cancer in 2017.
Once the minister's reply was over, some members wanted to seek clarification on related issues. However, Deputy Chairman Harivansh turned down the request citing lack of time.
Congress leaders protested, with P Chidambaram saying that the discussion should not be reduced to a "boring monologue".
"We have a right to ask questions," party leader Anand Sharma said.