MORIGAON, March 13 - To tackle the rising cases of cancer in Assam and the North-East, the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), Mumbai, the pioneering cancer treatment institute of Asia, has taken some steps at the Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI), Guwahati and initiated a project to ensure the same quality of treatment for the region, said Dr Sidhartha Laskar, Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, TMC.
Talking to visiting members of the National Union of Journalists (India) at Mumbai, Professor Laskar, who hails from Assam, said that besides upgrading of treatment protocol and technique, the TMC has been extending its footprints across India following the increasing burden of patients from all over the country. Dr Laskar, who is an Assamese has been serving the patients at the TMC for the last two decades, said that TMC will extend all possible help and provide all modern training facilities at the BBCI, Guwahati.
The TMC has set up new centres in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Guwahati to cater to the patients of the regions, and has also set up a new hospital complex at Navi Mumbai, said the TMC Director, Dr Anil Keith D� Cruz. Referring to the high prevalence of cancer in the north-eastern States, Prof Dr D� Cruz said that exact cause of the unusual spread of cancer in the region was not yet known and for which a number of studies and activities have been going on across the region along with the capacity building and infrastructure development of the Regional Cancer Centres at Agartala, Aizawl and Guwahati. In the North-East, three major causes were identified for cancer prevalence. It was found that 30-50 per cent cases are due to consumption of tobacco and alcohol, 10-15 per cent are due to Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), HIV and Hepatitis infection and the rest are due to food habits, Prof D� Cruz pointed out. He said that the habit of chemo preventive food consumption is found to be higher in North-East as the consumption of smoked and fried food is high. These foods containing less vitamins have contributed to the spread of cancer in the North -East. He further stated whereas the national average of cancer prevalence was registered at 100 per lakh of the population, in the North-East the average was recorded at 200 cases per lakh people. This has prompted the TMC to make extra efforts at tackling the menace in the region. The Population-based Cancer Registry has nullified the belief that the prevalence of cancer is high due to excessive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides since the Green Revolution, Dr. D� Cruz said.
The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India in collaboration with the National Union of Journalists (India), organised the five-day journalists� workshop at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) including at the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), Mumbai from March 2-6 to make journalists aware of nuclear technology and its impact in different fields like health, food processing, electricity etc. As a part of the programme, journalists coming from different States of the country were given latest information on radio therapy of TMC, BARC, Board of Research & Isotope Technology, Tarapur Atomic Power Station and S3F Plant, Waste Management Division.
On March 4, Dr Swapnesh Kumar Malhotra, distinguished scientist and Secretary, Atomic Energy Education Society delivering the keynote lecture said that there was a need to challenge four widespread myths: (a) nuclear energy fosters nuclear weapons proliferation; (b) nuclear reactors are not safe; (c) nuclear waste disposal is an insoluble problem and (d) radiation is deadly. But, the reality is the opposite, Dr Malhotra said adding that the first five countries to build atomic bombs did so before moving to electricity generation through nuclear power. Thus technically speaking, power reactors are not the necessary intermediate steps for making nuclear bombs, he said. He further said that the global nuclear industry with more than 430 operating reactors, having more than 8000 reactor years of operational time has produced just one serious accident with not a very large number of casualties immediately or even many years after the accident. Dr Malhotra said that meanwhile, production and consumption of fossil fuels yields a constant flow of accidents and diseases in addition to the green house gases. As per a WHO report, about three million people die each year due to air pollution from the global energy system dominated by fossil fuels, he said.