Reducing India’s cancer burden

Paper:

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Context:
There is a need to focus on risk reduction, early detection, and programmatic and policy solutions in Cancer cases.

Key Statistics:

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR) National Cancer Registry Programme Report of August 2020 has estimated that the number of cancer cases in India in 2020 is 13.9 lakh.
  • India has seen a steady rise in cancer cases over many decades.
  • A 2017 report showed that India’s cancer burden increased 2.6 times between 1990 to 2016, and deaths due to cancers doubled during the time.
  • Almost two-thirds of these cancer cases are at late stages.
  • In men, the most common cancers are of the lung, oral cavity, stomach and oesophagus, while in women, breast, cervix, ovary and gall bladder cancers are the most common.
  • Tobacco use (in all forms) is a major avoidable risk factor for the development of cancer in 27% of cancer cases.
  • Other important risk factors include alcohol use, inappropriate diet, low physical activity, obesity, and pollution.

Government efforts:

  • India is committed to achieving a one-third reduction in cancer-related deaths by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Given that personal hygiene accounts as a distant driver of cancer, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyancould play a significant role in India’s efforts in reducing the impact of cancer in India.
  • The FSSAI’s new labelling and display regulationswill encourage inter-sectoral and multi-sectoral action against cancer-causing chemicals in food items.
  • Initiatives such as the National Tobacco Control Programmewill help address the major risk factor associated with cancer in Indian men.
  • The Government of India has been implementing the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS)since 2010 up to District level under the National Health Mission.
  • The government initiatives like Ayushman Bharat, Swasthya Bharat, Poshan Abhiyaan and Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana, the National Health Policy focussed on preventive healthcare would play a critical role in India’s efforts against cancer. 

Way forward:

  • As per the available data, nearly 50%-60% of cancer cases can be avoided by tackling the known risk factors effectively. Promoting certain behaviourcan help reduce such potential risk factors.
  • There is a need for a multisectoral approach that brings together government, private practitioners and civil society to increase health literacy regarding cancer.
  • The existing health systems need to be strengthened so that there is greater access to screening, early detection, and timely, affordable treatment.
  • Domestic cancer research is of crucial importance to guide our efforts on cancer prevention and control.
  • Making cancer a notifiable diseasecould help drive cancer research further by providing greater access to accurate, relevant data that can drive policy decisions.
  • There is a need to focus on programmatic and policy solutions for large-scale impact.
  • Programmatic and policy-level solutions need to be driven by data. The information collected through the National Cancer Registry Programme can be helpful in this direction.

Exploiting the Chinese exit

Paper:

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Context:

In the absence of Chinese tech, the primary Indian IT objective must shift to providing for Indians

Key Details:

  • The decision to ban Chinese apps in Indiais not only a geopolitical move but also a strategic trade manoeuvre that can have a significant positive economic impact for India.
  • Banning these Chinese websites and applications to the Indian public effectively allows our home-grown IT talent to focus on the newly arrived Internet user.

Potential of Indian Market:

  • With over 600 million internet users, India is the second-largest online market in the world, ranked only behind China.
  • India has been witnessing the widening reach of Internet connectivity across the country with hundreds of millions of non-urban Indians emerging as new consumers. India is among the fastest-growing markets for digital consumers with the country recording double-digit growth over the past several years, driven by rapid internet growth in rural areas.
  • The data generated by this large consumer baseis a valuable commodity for internet-based companies.
    • The Chinese Internet industry could be interested in using data generated by the Indian consumers to test and implement the AI technologies they have been developing.
    • The big tech firms from Silicon Valley have been looking to consolidate their base in Indian markets.
  • India is also unique in the sense that India hosts diverse marketsgiven the regional barriers created by the numerous languages spoken in India. This provides an accretion of excellent smaller markets, with opportunities for specialised Internet services created for a local community.

Concerns with Indian approach:

  • While big tech firms from Silicon Valley and China in both hardware and software have been in a tussle over the Indian consumer, India’s focus remains on exporting IT serviceswhile paying little attention to servicing our own nation’s tech market.
  • While India’s focus has been on exporting IT services, the vacuum created between the increasing demand and limited domestic supply has been filled by American Big Tech and by the Chinese.

What India should do?

  • The primary Indian IT objective must shift focus from the export of IT services to servicing the domestic market.
  • The fundamental focus of the new digital products should be to provide for regional necessities and preferences.
  • There is a need to create hyper-local and hyper-regional services of high quality that are also portable across our linguistic diversity. This could help establish a strong Internet market in India.
  • Technology companies all over the world have focused their efforts on 15% of the world’s population with deep pockets while largely ignoring the other six billion denizens of the world’s population.
  • Indian entrepreneurs should focus on providing services and products of high quality that will be used by everyday Indians across the country with focussed attention towards increasing accessibility.
  • India could consider sharing its technological know-how with other countries in the “south”, such as those in Africa and Latin America. This would helpexpand the market for Indian companies.