New Delhi: The Centre Government is planning to start over a 100 cancer hospitals in 21 states. Around five lakh people die every year due to cancer.

The government is planning to open cancer detection, diagnosis and chemotherapy centres across several districts and for this it has sanctioned Rs 1 crore each to nearly 100 districts across 21 states. This is the first time where the government has started a programme to prevent and cure cancer, diabetes and heart diseases covering 21 states.

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, in the Rajya Sabha, admitted that the country had less number of Oncology centres. In 1975, the government had initiated the Cancer Prevention Programme but due to lack of funds, it could not be implemented in an effective manner.

It has been noted that apart from smoking and consuming alcohol, chewing tobacco was one of the major reasons behind spreading of cancer in the country.

Even developed states like Punjab are not spared by the disease and to cure it, the Centre is planning to have regional centres in districts that will detect, cure and prevent cancer.

Divulging details, Azad said that by early detection of cancer, around 30 per cent lives can be saved and 30 per cent of cancer patients will recover if the disease is cured.

He also said that for the first time the government had consulted with the Gates Foundation which was engaged in dealing with cancer-related problems.

According to government statistics, it has been found that tobacco is one of the main reasons for cancer. Around 21 per cent of the population consumes tobacco and 35 per cent smoke cigarettes. It has also been noted that 80 per cent of men chewing tobacco are more prone to cancer than women who constitute rest of the 20 per cent.

Answering a question in the House, Azad revealed that in Punjab’s Bhatinda and Hoshiarpur districts cancer cases were on the rise. A team of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) submitted its report last September confirming the rising trend. However, ICMR has not been able to know the reasons behind the rise in number of cancer in Punjab.

Following the report, the government has decided to open a regional cancer centre in Punjab and a district-level cancer centre in Bhatinda, Hoshiarpur and Mansa.