The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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60 crore for Bengal medicare
- Cancer and mental health thrust in Delhi funds

The Union health ministry is pumping in nearly Rs 60 crore for the improvement of cancer and mental health treatment in Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s Bengal.

The Centre will give Rs 50 crore for the second campus of the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI), which was inaugurated this August by Union health minister Sushma Swaraj at Tollygunge.

“The money will help us create more beds and increase research activities,” state health secretary Asim Barman said on Friday.

Barman added that the decision to disburse additional funds to the institute run by the central government was conveyed by Union health secretary J.V.R. Prasada Rao to state health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra and Barman in a meeting on Friday afternoon.

“The Centre will also give us Rs 4 crore for setting up two cobalt therapy units for cancer treatment in the districts of Malda and Midnapore,” added Barman.

The CNCI, at present, treats about 100 cancer patients every day. This is lower than Thakurpukur Cancer Centre and Welfare Home (150), Medical College and Hospital (140-150) and Nilratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital (Rs 120).

Bhattacharjee’s government has been provided with the funds under two schemes — National Cancer Control Programme and National Mental Health Programme. Oral cancer is on the rise in Bengal, as is breast cancer. There are an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 new cancer cases every year in the state. State health department findings blame dietary habits and environmental pollution for the rise in cancer cases.

During the afternoon discussions, Barman and Mishra also discussed with Rao the need to develop three state-run mental hospitals — at Gobra, Behrampore and Purulia.

“We have conveyed the need for Rs 3 crore to develop each of these hospitals. Whether the Union ministry sanctions the funds will be known later,” said the health secretary.

“The Supreme Court has observed that adequate attention has not been paid to mental healthcare,” added Barman. The health ministry has, thus, asked the state government to upgrade its psychiatry units at seven medical college and hospitals. “The ministry will give Rs 50 lakh for each of these hospitals,” he said.

The state government, meanwhile, has decided to involve medical students in its various cancer prevention programmes in the city and adjoining districts. “Measures must be taken to involve NGOs and educational institutions to prevent cancer at the adolescent stage,” said an official of the health department.

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