New Delhi: Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare virtually addressed the 5th Foundation Day celebration of National Cancer Institute (NCI) of AIIMS Jhajjar, here today. Ms. Christina Scott, British Deputy High Commissioner to India was also present on the occasion.

Addressing the gathering, Dr Mandaviya said, “The way NCI has progressed over the last 5 years, is a testament to the skill and dedication of the doctors, nurses and other health workers involved in the day to day functioning of the institute.” He encouraged the institute to continue delivering quality healthcare to patients.

The Union Health Minister also presided over the signing of a Collaboration Agreement between University of Liverpool and AIIMS New Delhi for “AIIMS Liverpool Collaborative Centre for Translational Research in Head and Neck Cancer – ALHNS”. The ALHNS will build upon the pre-existing collaboration and links between the Liverpool Head and Neck Centre (LNHC), University of Liverpool and the Head and Neck Cancer Unit at AIIMS New Delhi.

ALHNS will impact the care of patients with head and neck cancer by combining resources at both institutions in order to develop joint research and education programmes which will enhance the quality of research outputs and education. It also aims to develop common SOPs so as to access high quality clinical datasets and tissue repositories of two ethnically diverse populations whose cancer-causing aetiologies differ significantly (cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking and Human papillomavirus in the UK population, in contrast to smokeless tobacco products in an Indian population). ALHNS also aims to have commonly articulated strategic goals in order to deliver cutting edge medical innovation and personalized cancer treatments.

Dr Mandaviya stated that “Hon’ble Prime Minister’s dream is that the country should become Ayushman, where health facilities become affordable, accessible and available to every citizen. There should be no discrimination between rich and poor for treatment. To ensure that everyone gets healthcare facilities with the same quality standard, the government has worked in the last 10 years by linking the health sector with development.”   On the achievements of the Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY and Ayushman Arogya Mandir scheme, he said, “By providing family health insurance of Rs 5 lakh annually to 60 crore people of the country, free treatment for serious diseases has been provided. Under this scheme, today even the poor get their treatment in those hospitals where earlier only rich people used to get their treatment. Till now, more than 6 crore people have received treatment under this scheme, due to which these poor people have saved more than Rs 1,12,500 crore.” “One of the purposes behind establishing over 1.64 lakh Ayushman Arogya Mandirs is to ensure that primary cancer screening is done in the first stage itself. Today, complex operations are being conducted in district hospitals as well”, he added. He further said that Ayushman Bharat Yojana has not only saved the lives of crores of people but has also kept them from falling below the poverty line.

On India’s successes in the endeavor to eliminate TB by 2025, Dr Mandaviya said, “under the Prime Minister’s TB Free India Campaign, every year 25 lakh TB patients of the country are provided free medicines, testing, nutrition etc., in which approximately Rs 3000 crore is spent annually. Apart from this, financial assistance of Rs 500 per month is also given to TB patients, in which Rs 2756 crore has been paid directly into the accounts of the patients in the last 5 years. He also highlighted that 10 lakh TB patients of the country are being adopted by service-minded citizens and are also distributing nutrition to them every month.  The Union Health Minister also mentioned the Sickle Cell Elimination Program of the Indian Government in which sickle cell screening of about 7 crore people will be done in 3 years and medicines for sickle cell will be made available for free, on which the government will spend about Rs 910 crore.