The Indian Government is tying up with a multinational company to bring a cost effective vaccine that is expected to combat cervical cancer. The Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss on the occasion of National Cancer Awareness Day said that the high rate of cervical cancer has been instrumental behind the initiative.
The Indian Council of Medical Research has already started mobilizing things to implement the plan in association with Merck which has produced the vaccine. Trial of the vaccine on 13 to 15-year-old girls has already taken place in South Africa and the trials is believed to take place in India on women above 18 years.
Once the trials are completed in a few months time, the vaccine can be made available in the country. The vaccine is against the Human Paillioma Virus (HPV), a major cause of cervical cancer in women.
To strengthen research activities, the ICMR is already trying to establish linkages with other international institutes. The ICMR is expected to establish an association with Lyon-based International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC), which would bring a lot of investment to India.
Vaccination against Hepatitis B would become part of the national immunization schedule by the next financial year. The minister also reflected upon the need to shift focus towards non-communicable diseases including cancer, diabetes and mental health. The Government is expected to come out with a more effective educational campaign against diseases such as cancer, diabetes, TB and leprosy in the near future.
Efforts are also on to strengthen infrastructure and equipment for cancer treatment across the country. There would be at least one Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) in all the states while the focus would be on the Northeast where cancer incidence is particularly high. Further more, Rs five crore would be allocated for each new RCC.
The government has already constituted a national taskforce on cancer to formulate strategies in view of changing needs. A national taskforce has also been constituted to explore the use of telemedicine in health with special focus on cancer.