9 December 2023
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Dr Mansukh L Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Chemicals and Fertilizers, on Wednesday launched the ‘Sanjeevani-United Against Cancer’ initiative of the News18 Network and Federal Bank Hormis Memorial Foundation together, with Tata Trusts as a knowledge partner, adding that the “outcome of the discussions be conveyed to the ministry”.

“The Sanjeevani initiative will lead to discussions and deliberations. Send a note on it to us, so we can track the suggestions coming from people. The Modi government believes in stakeholder consultation. Public partnership is integral to India’s health model. Share your ideas with us, so we can fight the diseases in the nation,” said Mandaviya.

‘Sanjeevani’ aims to raise awareness and encourage conversations around the silent cancer epidemic, and to alleviate fears that often accompany this disease. The collaborative effort seeks to drive positive sentiments towards early and consistent health tests, tumour management, and symptom recognition, all crucial aspects in the battle against cancer.

The Sanjeevani initiative focuses on empowering and supporting individuals to confront fears and actively fight cancer. The number of cancer cases in the country is projected to go up from 14.6 lakh in 2022 to 15.7 lakh in 2025, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Cancer Registry Programme (ICMR-NCRP). Moreover, on a global scale, 30% of cancer patients lose their lives due to late-stage detection, while 70% achieve a reprieve due to early detection facilitated by awareness. Unfortunately, this ratio is reversed in India. It has become all the more urgent therefore to fight the social stigma surrounding it and counter the hesitancy around tests for early detection.

“With time, the pattern of diseases changes. Health sector is also dynamic. It is important to have a holistic approach towards the sector. Health can never be a political subject. We merged health with development from 2014. Not as a token, but a total gesture. Instead of just opening dispensaries, we focused on making health services accessible to all,” he said.

“When PM Modi addressed the country on August 15, 2022, he said we should be a developed country. In the Panch Pran, he said we have to get rid of colonial mindset, but preserve our past. The country needs to move ahead together with one mindset and goal. Every citizen should fulfill his duty towards the nation, the PM said. Taking the inspiration, we need to get inspired by our heritage. For the world, health model is about commerce, but for India, it is a seva. When you inspire people, they will participate in it,” Mandaviya said.

“During the Covid lockdown, developed nations used to say that doctors and nurses were not reporting to duty. I used to tell them our doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and Corona warriors report to work. Many even lost their lives. He cited a social media video of a nurse who left her three-month-old child with the father to attend to our patients. Modiji inspired and encouraged our Corona warriors. He congratulated them with taali and thali… Last January, when I met Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum, he congratulated India for Covid management and drive. During the Covid crisis, the world was seeing a shortage of medicines. India supplied medicines to 150 countries. As a result, India has become a priority country in the world. When the world was stockpiling vaccines, through Vaccine Maitri, we provided vaccines to our neighbouring friendly countries. We could have hiked its price, but we sold it at minimal rates,” Mandaviya said.

“We have made four pillars for the Ayushman Bharat Yojana. First is the Ayushman Bharat health and wellness centres. We set up 1.6 lakh centres, which offer 13 types of screenings. The theme for your event is cancer. We have trained 10 lakh Asha workers to screen for basic diseases. Asha workers are key to the health workforce. One Asha worker is allotted for 1,000 citizens. They even look out for symptoms of cancer and send them for further screening and treatment under the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Of the 90 medicines for cancer, India gives out 42 at the cheapest rates. We are increasing cancer hospitals and tertiary care facilities. Our approach towards health sector is holistic. We have increased MBBS and PG medical seats and colleges. We have created medical educational resources. Ayushman Bharat health infrastructure mission is working towards it. We launched pharma policy yesterday. We are the pharmacy of the world in generic medicines,” he said.

“PM Modi had a meeting with scientists during the Covid crisis. They suggested vaccine. He had said that failure will be mine, and success will be yours. Within a month of the world getting its first dose, we administered indigenous vaccine dose in India. We have the potential, we need to apply mind to research and innovation and create the ecosystem. The world is expecting that India will lead. The global south is looking at India to lead. Non-communicable diseases are a challenge…We can work towards wellness, with small changes to our lifestyle… At a time when India is heading towards becoming a developed nation, we have made a 25-year roadmap for the health sector,” he said.

Abdul Gh Lone