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Assam’s burden of cancer

- Rs 59cr is spent on tobacco-related diseases: Report

Guwahati, June 20: A report prepared by the Public Health Foundation of India states that cancers caused by tobacco use share the highest economic burden amounting to Rs 59 crore in Assam.

Assam principal secretary, health and family welfare, Sanjeeva Kumar, today released the findings of the report on Economic burden of tobacco-related diseases in Assam during a programme organised by the Voluntary Health Association of Assam here.

The report, supported by the Union health ministry and the World Health Organisation, estimates the direct and indirect costs from all diseases caused by tobacco use and for four specific diseases, respiratory, cardiovascular diseases, tuberculosis and cancer.

It highlights that tobacco use and the associated costs are creating an enormous burden for the state.

“The total economic costs attributable to tobacco use in Assam amounted to Rs 541 crore in the year 2011 for persons aged between 35 and 69, of which 47 per cent was direct medical costs and 53 per cent was indirect morbidity costs,” it said.

The report said the economic cost for the four diseases amounted to Rs 158 crore.

“Cancers shared the highest economic burden (Rs 59 crore) on account of tobacco use followed by cardiovascular diseases (Rs 48 crore), respiratory diseases (Rs 42 crore) and tuberculosis (Rs 9 crore),” it said.

Among the four diseases, it said cancers contributed the highest at 41 per cent of the total direct medical cost while cardiovascular diseases and cancers contributed the highest at 34 per cent each of the total indirect cost.

Direct medical costs include the direct healthcare expenditures for inpatient hospitalisation or outpatient visits. Indirect costs refer to the expenditures incurred for transportation other than ambulance and lodging charges for caregivers.

The report also said the economic cost for all diseases because of tobacco use has been found higher in males.

“The economic cost for smokeless tobacco was higher in females at Rs 136.8 crore compared to that of Rs 56.3 crore for males,” it said.

The report called for prioritisation of tobacco control in Assam and increase resource and budget allocations for non-communicable disease prevention and control.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey India (2009-10), in Assam, 40 per cent of adults used tobacco. About 7 per cent of adults were smokers, while 24 per cent used smokeless tobacco. Fifty-one per cent of adults were exposed to second hand smoke at home.

Apart from the screening of a film Price We Pay for Tobacco by the World Lung Foundation, panel discussions comprising experts, academia and officials were also held during the programme.


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