Chandigarh, June 12: With the incidence of cancer in the Bathinda belt of south-west Punjab growing over the years, the Punjab government yesterday asked the Mumbai-based Tata Memorial Centre to train its doctors and paramedic staff to fight the deadly disease.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Tuesday met senior officials of the centre and sought their assistance for imparting training in oncology to the doctors and paramedics of Punjab's government medical colleges and hospitals and the state health department, a spokesman said here.
Badal emphasised on the need to initiate a six months oncology training programme by the centre's. Once trained, the services of doctors will be utilised in the upcoming cancer treatment centres at Patiala, Amritsar, Faridkot, Bhatinda, Mohali and Sangrur, he said.
Centre director R.A. Badwe assured the chief minister that a high level team would be deputed soon to visit Bathinda and Patiala for chalking out the training programme.
Badwe said that the centre would soon open a state-of-the-art radiotherapy hospital at a cost of Rs.22 crore in Sangrur, which would be equipped with ultra-modern machines. He added that the centre was awaiting permission of the union government to set up the hospital.
Bathinda, Mansa, Sangrur, Barnala and Muktsar district in south-west Punjab, which comprise the state's Malwa belt (south of river Sutlej), are the worst affected by cancer cases. Most surveys and reports have indicated that the high incidence of cancer is owing to excessive use of pesticides by farmers in this belt which is known for high agricultural productivity.
A government survey conducted last year, had revealed a shocking 34,430 deaths - nearly 19 deaths per day - in the last five years due to cancer. This forced the government to initiate steps for making the state cancer-free.
The door-to-door health department survey covered nearly 97 percent of Punjab's 2.70 crore population and had brought out glaring figures of cancer deaths and the spread of the fatal disease in the agrarian state.
The survey report pointed ut that another 24,659 people were suffering from the disease already while another 87,403 people had shown symptoms of having cancer.