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Webinar discusses impact of COVID-19 on cancer care

By The Assam Tribune

GUWAHATI, July 28 - Karmashree Hiteswar Saikia College�s Department of Political Science and Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) jointly organised a national webinar on the topic �Living with Cancer and Covid-19� on Monday, said a press release.

Inaugurating the webinar, Devasish Sharma, Joint Resident Commissioner, Assam Bhawan, Mumbai and founder chairman of Deepsikha Cancer Foundation, reflected upon the entire cancer care system being disrupted during the Covid-19 pandemic. He called upon all concerned to do a rethinking on several policy matters with regard to facilitating cancer treatment with the changing medical scene in the present times.

Replying to a question on banning tobacco for prevention of cancer, Sharma said the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COTPA) is not enough to dissuade people from using tobacco products; the people must take own initiatives for discarding such harmful products which have been commercialised by business houses and unethically promoted in advertisements by many popular cinema personalities.

Sharma also gave a brief account of how he and his team had brought cancer patients from Mumbai to Assam by road covering a distance of more than 2,500 km during the countrywide lockdown. He acknowledged the initiatives and support provided by the Assam Health Minister in bringing the cancer patients home.

Speaking from his medical bed, the other speaker, Arun Gupta, who is the founder of the NGO Win Over Cancer and himself has been fighting cancer since 2011, showed his positive attitude and fighting spirit towards the disease when he said, �Cancer is a beautiful disease�. It changes one�s perspective towards life.� He said that one can win over cancer by learning to live with it.

The stigma, the emotional and physical trauma, the financial problem, etc., corollary to cancer can be managed with a very positive mindset and approach, Gupta said. He added that one must not forget cancer is curable provided there are proper medical awareness, guidance and access.

Gupta said his organisation Win Over Cancer is doing a lot by extending support to many cancer patients like distributing free breast prostheses, counselling people on various myths relating to cancer, creating long-term financial sustainability among cancer-impacted families, etc. His wife Kavita Gupta also spoke on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Principal of the host college Dr Sikhamoni Konwar said the pandemic-induced lockdown has largely affected the medical support system for cancer patients with restriction of movement and difficulties in regular medical checkups and delivery systems. Also, Covid-19 infection has further complicated the treatment of cancer, she said, adding that one should not however, lose heart.

The webinar was jointly coordinated by Dr Ranjan Kumar Bhatta, coordinator of the college�s IQAC and Dr Mrinmoyee Baruah, Assistant Professor in the host department.

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