Guwahati: The North East Cancer Hospital and Research Institute (NECHRI) at Amerigog in Jorhat area of Assam’s main city Guwahati is getting a tobacco cessation clinic that will provide free treatment to cancer patients of the region.

NECHRI Managing Director and Research head Dr Munindra Narayan Baruah shared this at World Cancer Day programme held at the hospital premises on Friday. He said the centre is being set up by UK-based Centre for Health Research and Education.

Tobacco Cessation Clinic is an initiative by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Union Ministry of Health.

The services offered include individual intervention in the form of behavioural counselling, medication, and nicotine replacement therapy. The centres also intend to create awareness among the general public about the negative effects of tobacco and about tobacco cessation through awareness programmes, exhibitions, training programmes, information booklets and manuals aimed at specific groups among the population.

“There will be a doctor, a nurse and other medical and paramedical staff in the clinic for treatment of patients,” Dr Baruah said.

Tobacco cessation activities formally began with the opening of 13 tobacco cessation clinics at Anand, Bhopal, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cuttack, Delhi (2), Goa, Jaipur, Lucknow, Mumbai, and Patna in 2002. The clinics were renamed tobacco cessation centres in 2005. Five more such centres were established in Mizoram, Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Trivandrum, which makes it a total of 18 centres across the country.

In addition, the UK-based organization will also conduct a series of cancer awareness camps in various parts of the northeastern region. The first camp will be conducted at Maiong in Meghalaya’s Ri-Bhoi district on February 27, Dr Baruah said.

“We have already conducted a camp at Nongpoh in Meghalaya’s Ri-Bhoi district in April, last year,” Dr Baruaah said.

Cancer patients will be provided free treatment and counselling at all these camps.

“The increasing number of cancer patients in the northeastern states has been a matter of concern for all. The number of Esophageal cancer is increasing in Assam and Meghalaya,” he said.

“In Meghalaya, 123 cancer patients have been detected per 1 lakh individuals. The number is 184 in Mizoram and 148 in Kamrup (Assam),” he also said.

“The number of stomach cancer patients has been alarmingly increasing in Mizoram,” he also said.

Dr Baruah said that this year, the initiative is all about raising awareness about the equity gap that affects almost everyone, in high as well as low- and middle-income countries, which is costing lives.

“Inadequate infrastructure, lack of trained manpower, and the disparity between rural and urban sphere in terms of population and the cancer-expert ratio are what needs attention to to plug in the gap”, stated Dr Baruah, while also raising concern over India having one of the lowest public healthcare budgets in the world in terms of GDP.,

In his address, NECHRI Director Raj Changkakoty poured light on the institute plan for setting up a tobacco cessation clinic at NECHRI under the aegis of CHRE to create ‘next generation cessation expert’ to combat tobacco use and help people quit its use.

Medical oncologists Dr BJ Saikia and Dr Amit Dutta also graced the occasion.

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