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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Baby steps for cancer hospital

Silchar, Nov. 20: The Mizoram government will upgrade its existing 40-bed small treatment centre to a 300-bed cancer diagnosis and treatment centre at Zemabawk on the northern fringes of the capital city.

It will be the third cancer hospital in the Northeast.

Parliamentary secretary of health and medical department of the Mizoram council of ministers, S. Laldingliana, recently told The Telegraph over phone from Lunglei town in south Mizoram that preliminary steps for upgrading this hospital had begun. He said the total outlay for setting up this modern cancer hospital in a phased manner is estimated at Rs 350 crore.

Lalbiakzuala, a cancer specialist in Aizawl, said there had been a sharp rise in the number of cancer patients in the past 10 years, thus triggering concern among the high-ups in the health directorate of the state.

Quoting a latest report recently released by the Centre in its population-based cancer registry, Lalbiakzuala said as many as 3,302 people in Mizoram had died of cancer. He said the figure was enough to send alarm bells ringing among the Mizoram government’s health officials.

Lalbiakzuala, who is also the secretary of the state government-run Cancer Care Society in Aizawl, rued that Mizoram tops the chart in number of patients suffering from stomach cancer in the country. Quoting an international official report, he said Mizoram had already edged past Japan in high incidence of stomach cancer .

The alarming rise in cancer cases, particularly those affecting stomach, lung, throat and oral cavity can be gauged from official review reports that state that in a year, 550 people die of cancer in Mizoram.

Laldingliana said the habit of Mizo men and women of taking tobacco either by chewing or smoking cigarettes or vailo (home-made bidis), is so pernicious that it ultimately leads to such high incidence of oral cancer among them.

According to a report of the Mizoram state Tobacco Control Society, at least 72.5 per cent Mizo men and 61.6 per cent women are tobacco addicts. Laldingliana also said another reason for stomach cancer is regular consumption of dry or smoked meat.

An official source said the Mizoram Cancer Care Society was recently granted Rs 3.5 crore by the Centre for launching a wider mass awareness campaign in the state for acquainting the Mizos with the causes of this killer ailment so that they refrain from their habits of smoking or eating dry meats, in particular chicken, beef and pork.