From Our Special Correspondent
Silchar, March 22: The 2100 km Run and Ride rally concluded here on Thursday. With the aim of spreading cancer awareness, early detection for cancer and reducing tobacco use, this rally covered seven sisters of northeast region. Starting from here on March 12 last, the team of 34 on 17 bikes stopped at Shillong, Guwahati, Tezpur, Itagar, Dibrugarh, Kohima, Imphal, Aizawl and Agartala. This rally was organized by Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Silchar Thumpers, Enfield Club and Tata Trusts in collaboration with the Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV), tiol Cancer Grid, Tata Motors, Assam Rifles, tiol Service Scheme, Rotary Intertiol District 3240, Great North Eastern Run, Gup Shup 93.4 FM, Electrobion Sip and Yummy Foods.
At each location, the rally included a 5-km run and a series of events, street plays, sensitization and educatiol talks as well as stories of cancer patients. At every stop, there was wide participation by schools, medical colleges, NGOs, nursing students, NSS, doctors, patient support groups, defence and military forces, CRPF, BSF and Assam Rifles. Appreciating the collaborations, Dr Ravi Kann, Director, Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre and VoTV patron said, “This rally with the help of media at each location has created a buzz about the issue. On the way, the bikers distributed cancer awareness pamphlets and took oaths. He added that scores of young people impressed by the messages promised to quit tobacco.”
At every location, there was participation by local lumiries such as Commissioner of Health, galand, Ramakrishn, Health Minister of Mizoram, Pu Lal Thanzara, Health Secretary of Meghalaya, Praveen Bakshi. Dr Ravi Kann stressed on the importance of early detection because most of the cases which come to them are at stage 3 and 4 where the probability of cure is very low. Early detection increases the success of treatment many times. Ashima Sarin, Director, Voice of Tobacco Victims, said, “This rally is start of a campaign to increase early detection and reduce tobacco prevalence. 50% of all cancers are caused by tobacco, which is a big issue in the northeast.
Prevalence of tobacco use is the highest in the northeast. The statistics show its 45.5% in Aruchal Pradesh, 48.3% in Assam, 55.1% in Manipur, 47.6% in Meghalaya, 58.7% in Mizoram, 43.3% in galand and 64.5% in Tripura. In India as a whole the prevalence has come down to 28.6% during the last 6 years as per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2017. On the contrary, in northeastern states including Assam, it has gone up. The tobacco epidemic will consume the northeast unless drastic steps are taken to curb its use.
Dr Ravi Kann said, “We want to create a Northeast Alliance with support from the tiol Cancer Grid and in the next 5 years create facilities for prevention, early detection, rehabilitation services, tobacco cessation clinics, palliative care, patient support groups in every district of the region.” Dr. Arnie Purushotham, Medical Director, Cancer Care Programme, Tata Trusts, said, “Tata Trusts’ purpose is to both support delivery of high quality and affordable cancer care closer to patients’ homes, and also to generate mass awareness about its prevention and early detection. There is high incidence of tobacco-related cancers in the northeast region. The focal areas are oral and lung cancer.
Many of these cancers are curable through preventative measures, screening and early detection. With the need to shift focus from curative to awareness and early detection programmes and thereby increasing chances of a patient’s survival, Tata Trusts have embarked upon several initiatives. These include implementing the tiol Cancer Grid, a network of 126 cancer hospitals in India, along with Tata Memorial Hospital to conducting a proof-of-concept in cross-subsidized screening programmes for certain types of cancers. The Tata Trusts have further partnered with the Government of Assam for development of 17 centres across Assam.