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Meghalaya, ‘cancer capital’ of India, says health official

It’s not only the ‘Abode of Clouds’, but Meghalaya is also the ‘cancer capital’ of India, a top health official said on the concluding day of a function to observe the ‘World No Tobacco Day’ here on Tuesday. 

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Shillong: Meghalaya, ‘cancer capital’ of India, says health official Shillong: It’s not only the ‘Abode of Clouds’, but Meghalaya is also the ‘cancer capital’ of India, a top health official said on the concluding day of a function to observe the ‘World No Tobacco Day’ here on Tuesday. 

Addressing a gathering at the State Convention Centre here, Additional Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department and Mission Director, National Health Mission, Meghalaya, Ram Kumar highlighted the fact that Meghalaya is the “cancer capital of India as far as esophagus, lungs, nose and throat cancers are concerned”.  

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Kumar said that 34 per cent of 13-15 years old and 47 per cent (aged 15+) consume tobacco in Meghalaya.  

Reiterating the need for early screening and change in lifestyle habits, he said that the involvement of schools at the districts and blocks level has played an important role in creating awareness on the impact of tobacco on health, community and environment.

“The village headmen, parents, MLAs, and religious leaders have also supported this campaign. If similar programs are conducted every 6 months, we will surely see behavioral changes in the community towards tobacco,” he added.  

Over 8000 schools across Meghalaya observed this year’s ‘World No Tobacco Day today on the theme “Protect the environment”, with the Departments of Education and Health collaborating with Sambandh Health Foundation (SHF), an NGO, which runs a campaign to create awareness on how tobacco is damaging the environment.

“Tobacco is consuming our people and children are the soft targets. The average life expectancy rate of citizens in Meghalaya is low at 62.3 years in comparison to the national average of 68.8 (WHO, 2018). Our state is ranked second in the country in terms of cancer prevalence among men while it is ranked 11 in the number of cancer cases among women (ICMR-NCDIR, 2021)”, Principal Secretary (Health), P.Sampath Kumar said. 

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