Thinking about the cancer care policy has been part of India’s modern medical history since the inception of the National Cancer Control Programme in 1975-76. This programme conceived the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) of Kerala in 1981. So far the case of cancer treatment and its screening has been embedded in a broader non-communicable disease programme in the state. Even the recent draft health policy of the state does not go deeper into the cancer question. One promising revision on conceptualising a cancer specific policy is the announcement of the new cancer institute in the campus of the Kochi Medical College Hospital. Even though there are couple of government schemes to support cancer patients, like the ‘Cancer Suraksha Scheme’ or the RCC’s special programme the ‘Cancer Care for Life’, cancer treatment remains quite expensive according to a study in 2013. The study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention mentioned the case of RCC in Thiruvananthapuram where ‘treatment expenditure was unaffordable to more than 70% of patients.’ This suggests that something have gone wrong with government policy on cancer in Kerala.
This paper looks at the various aspects of Kerala’s concern on fighting cancer in the context of its highest number of cancer cases in India. The paper looks at the structure of the institutions dedicated to cancer and the changing epidemiological demography of the state with an ageing population and the increasing trend of the tobacco usage among children.
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By Abin Thomas, PhD Scholar Student, King’s India Institute, London