Only 1-2% of the population who needs palliative care has access to it: FICCI report


It also shows that while India ranks third in terms of cancer incidence, most states do not have an enabling policy to integrate palliative care with treatment offered to patients.

It also shows that while India ranks third in terms of cancer incidence, most states do not have an enabling policy to integrate palliative care with treatment offered to patients.

Only 1-2% of the population who needs palliative care has access to it in India compared to the global average of 14%, according to an analysis of Ministry of Health data released by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Health Unit.

The analysis shows that while India ranks third in terms of cancer incidence in the world, most states in the country do not even have enabling legislation or policy to integrate palliative care with treatment offered to cancer patients.

Currently only three states in India (Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra) have a palliative care policy. Kerala, Mizoram, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab and Assam have reported the highest overall cancer incidence rates of over 130 per Lak population.

In a global comparison of incidence at the organ level, the burden of disease affecting head, neck, breast, cervical and ovarian cancer in India is higher if not on par with other countries such as China, the United States and the United Kingdom.

According to the report on the state of cancer in the country, the financial burden of cancer treatment is the highest among all diseases, making it unaffordable for more than 80% of the population. The cost of a single hospitalization for cancer care is three times the cost of any other non-communicable disease.

The burden of cancer in India remains poorly detected. Late-stage detection combined with suboptimal access to quality, affordable cancer treatment significantly affects the outcome of this disease in the country. With incidence rates continuing to rise, deaths from cancer have remained among the top five causes of death in India for the past decade,” the report said.

It also indicates that the incidence of cancer in India is now estimated at 19 to 20 lakh, while the true incidence is 1.5 to 3 times higher than the reported cases according to the study by FICCI and Ernst & Young.

The report notes that the need for the hour, then, is to train auxiliary nurses and Asha staff to provide counseling to cancer patients. The study notes that “the government also needs to make efforts to include palliative care packages within the reimbursement plans of state and private insurance plans.”

Ministry of Health response

The Ministry of Health noted in its response in Parliament that a population-based initiative to prevent, control and screen for common non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and common cancers, has been rolled out in the country under the National Health Mission (NHM).

Screening for these common cancers is an integral part of service delivery under Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centers.

Cancer treatment is also available under Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY). Besides, high quality generic medicines at affordable prices are made available to all, under Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Januchadi Parijuana (PMBJP) in association with state governments.

Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment (AMRIT) Pharmacy stores have been set up in some hospitals/institutions, with the goal of making Cancer Medicines available at great discount against the maximum retail price. The ministry said that under the Rashtriya Arugya Nidhi (RAN) programme, financial assistance is provided to families living below the poverty line for treatment, including cancer treatment, in government hospitals.

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