The UK-based Roko Cancer Charitable Trust has dedicated its first 500-bed cancer hospital to the nation, where patients from the Malwa belt will be treated free of cost.
Supreme Court judge justice Surinder Singh Nijjar inaugurated the hospital in Daudhar village of Moga district on Friday.
Kulwant Singh Dhaliwal, global ambassador of the trust, announced that the trust would carry out a door-to-door campaign across the state to create awareness among people about the prevention, detection and cure of cancer. He said they would set up their next cancer hospital in Ferozepur. "We will open a research centre in the cancer hospital at Daudhar. It will be equipped with the latest technology," he added.
Addressing the gathering, justice Nijjar said social workers should make people of rural areas aware about cancer because this disease was taking its toll in Punjab. "The observations of the World Health Organisation on the prevalence of cancer in the Malwa belt of Punjab were shocking. Though many NRIs have pitched in to tackle the situation, youngsters need to come forward and contribute by way of social work," he said.
Dhaliwal said the trust would focus on detecting cancer at an early stage. "The Malwa belt is known as the national capital of cancer at the moment. Though the Punjab government has started a campaign to deal with the problem, these efforts will not suffice. Awareness about cancer is extremely low in the state, especially in the Malwa region," he said.
Dhaliwal said the trust would organise 500 camps every year in association with NRIs and social organisations across the state. "In the past two years, we came across 672 cancer cases and have been distributing medicines free of cost among these patients. We also screen them for blood pressure and diabetes on a regular basis. Cancer is completely curable if detected early. We will distribute 10 lakh leaflets and CDs among people to generate cancer awareness," he said.
Former agriculture minister Tota Singh said the trust was primarily engaged in spreading awareness about cancer and detecting breast cancer cases at an early stage in rural, semi-urban and urban areas. "The Punjab government appreciates their efforts. It has granted Rs. 53.55 crore to cancer patients in the past six months," he said.
Justice MMS Bedi of the Punjab and Haryana high court, Moga sessions judge Karamjit Singh, trust chairman APS Chawla, deputy commissioner Arshdeep Singh Thind and SSP Surjit Singh Grewal were also present.