The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recently directed the Mizoram Chief Secretary to complete the upgradation of Mizoram State Cancer Institute (MSCI) under the Tobacco Cessation Clinics (TCC) scheme project and work for a new 50-bedded cancer hospital within the time limit.

The order of the apex human rights watchdog has been passed adjudicating petition filed by noted human rights activist and Supreme Court lawyer, Radhakanta Tripathy.

Mizoram is the state with the highest number of cancer patients in the context of geographical boundary and population size. Between 2011 till 2016 nearly 3137 people died in Mizoram, due to cancer. No proper action was taken by the Government to prevent the disease and to cure it, Tripathy alleged.

The Special Rapporteur, of the NHRC in 2019, submitted a report on the conditions of the cancer patients in Mizoram and recommended the steps to be taken to prevent the disease.

The NHRC had forwarded the report to Tripathy for comments and had also directed the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, to provide medical equipment and medical workforce to address the problems of cancer patients in India in general and State of Mizoram in specific keeping in view the recommendation of the Special Rapporteur.

Tripathy, in his rejoinder, stated the Commission that it was clear from the report sent by Special Rapporteur, that the State of Mizoram was badly affected by cancer and the majority of population were consuming tobacco, drugs, heroin, alcohol etc. Still no effective steps had been taken by the authorities to curb the menace of cancer, he said.

“The failure, negligence of the police, excise department and the drug inspectorate, had resulted in the spread of cancer in the State. Proper infrastructure and facilities are lacking in the State to deal with the situation, even the Centre had also not released the funds for the construction of 100-bed hospital and installation of Linear Accelerator,” Tripathy stated.

He further alleged that Mizoram had become the route of smuggling of Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine drugs to Myanmar and Heroine, ATS, Injectible drugs from Myanmar, but no corrective, vigilance measures had been taken regarding this serious issue.

“Therefore both Central and State Governments were responsible for spreading of cancer in State of Mizoram as an alarming state,” Tripathy added.

The NHRC forwarded the comments of Tripathy, to the Chief Secretary, Government. of Mizoram, directing him to submit an action taken report on it.

Pursuant to the further direction of the NHRC, the State submitted a report stating therein 15 main actions taken by the State to curb the cancer menace.

Besides awareness programme the State under National Programme for prevention and control of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and stroke, awareness, early detection and management of non-communicable disease including cancer are being undertaken by the State.

Operation grand slam, operation favang, anti drugs awareness campaign, canine squad, setting up special narcotic police station etc. has been undertaken by the police department.

“Screening under which everyone who are 30 years and above are being screened for five NCDs namely-hypertension, diabetes, oral cancer, cervix cancer and breast cancer which is conducted at all levels in the health care delivery system from sub centre and above.

Separate NCD clinic are also set up for screening in all the districts hospitals, sub-district hospitals and community health centers,” Tripathy said.

The Supreme Court lawyer highlighted Tobacco cessation clinics (TCC) are also set up in district hospitals with additional TCC located at the Mizoram State Cancer Institute, Zemabawak.

“An anti-tobacco squad is constituted in all the districts under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioners. The Mizoram State Cancer Institute was to be upgraded under the TCC scheme project @ 44.27 Cr., but scheme could not be completed due to paucity of fund. Somehow, remaining amount of Rs. 28.00 crore was managed and sanctioned,” he said.

“Work for a new 50 bedded cancer hospital has started in 2020 and 60 per cent of the structural component is finished. All patients registered under Mizoram Health Care/PMJAY and Government servants are given free treatment,” Tripathy said. (ANI)