According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a unit of US Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), India shares a large proportion of the global cancer burden, with rising mortality rates. The situation can improve with dissemination of scientific information among the general populace.
Around 1.8 million people in India are suffering from cancer. Patients of cervical and oral cancers top the list. Every 13th new cancer patient in the world is an Indian. A two-day international workshop for scientific journalism, aimed at media professionals, in association with Public Health Foundation of India and Institute of Cytology and Preventive Oncology (ICPO), Noida has been organized by NCI on October 12 and 13. This is NCI's first such workshop in South Asia. NCI has organized similar workshops in Brazil (2010), Mexico (2011), China (2012), Argentina (2012) and Puerto Rico (2013).
Preetha Rajaraman, program director, NCI (South Asia), said there is need for global co-ordination to defeat cancer. "Every 13th new cancer patient in the world is an Indian. India has a huge capacity and strong media network. The aim is to train journalists so they can convey accurate messages to the public about prevention and treatment."
Peter F Garrett, director, NCI office of communications and public liaison (OCPL), said the workshop aims to strengthen understanding about various facts of cancer among the media community.
"Media is a tool which can bridge the gap between medical practitioners and citizens. The workshop aims to enhance a journalist's understanding of cancer, and their ability to share this information with the public," Garrett said. NCI invited 30 journalists from print and electronic media to join the program.
The need for skilled manpower and cancer treatment centers are on rise, say experts. In the country there are only 412 medical colleges, 347 teletherapy units (where patients are treated using radiation) against a need of 1,059. The need to increase expenditure on public healthcare is on the higher note, as India lags behind even Afghanistan on this count