India will join the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a member to join global efforts to find answers to one of the major causes of death worldwide.
"The cabinet has approved India taking up membership of IARC for 2005-06 and 2006-07 at a total expenditure of $5.99 million," Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said.
"By becoming a participating state, India can channelize and prioritize IARC research inputs into the country in an organized fashion to suit cancer research and control needs in an equitably distributed fashion," Dasmunsi said.
India will be the first developing country to become a member of IARC, which was set up by the World Health Organization in 1965.
The IARC currently has 16 members including 12 from the European Union. The others are the US, Canada, Australia and Japan.
Cancer is the cause of 12 percent of deaths globally. In India it is among 10 major causes, accounting for around 3.8 million or 9.5 percent of deaths annually.
There are about 2-2.5 million cancer cases in the country, with 700,000-900,000 new cases added every year.
By becoming a member of IARC, "India would be able to promote research into identifying genes related to various cancers and become part of the efforts to develop cancer vaccine and design the protocols for vaccine trials," the minister said.
India is trying to set up oncology departments in medical colleges and special wings in premier hospitals and research centrescenters across the country.
Being a part of IARC would help India step up research into identification of environmental risk factors associated with cancer, which can lead to exploring newer possibilities for primary prevention of the disease.