April 2021 | 736 words | 3-minute read
According to estimates published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), 1 in 5 people, globally, develop cancer during their lifetime, and 1 in 8 men and 1 in 11 women die from the disease.
These new estimates also suggest that more than 50 million people are living within five years of a past cancer diagnosis. Ageing populations globally and socio-economic risk factors remain among the primary factors driving this increase.
In India, the Indian Council of Medical Research estimates that there will be a 12% rise in cancer cases in India in the years 2020 to 2025.
The National Cancer Registry Programme Report 2020, released by the ICMR in association with National Centre for Disease Informatics & Research (NCDIR) Bengaluru, estimates 13.9 lakhs cancer cases in 2020 which is likely to increase to 15.7 lakhs by 2025.
While this does not paint a rosy picture, efforts are in progress to ensure better care to patients and enhancement of affordable and advanced care across the country.
The Tatas have been at the forefront of the fight against cancer, starting with the set up of Tata Memorial Hospital in 1941. We highlight several of our initiatives below.
Tata Memorial Centre
After Lady Meherbai Tata died of leukaemia in 1932, her husband, Dorabji Tata — the chairman of Tata Sons and the son of the founder Jamsetji Tata — wanted to bring to India a facility similar to the ones abroad where his wife was treated. After Dorabji’s death, his successor, Nowroji Saklatwala, pursued this endeavour. But it was the support of JRD Tata that finally saw the Tata Memorial Hospital, a seven-storey structure, opening in Parel in the heart of working-class Mumbai on February 28, 1941.
In 1957, the Ministry of Health temporarily took over the Tata Memorial Hospital. But JRD Tata and Homi Bhabha — the pioneer of India’s nuclear energy programme — had the vision to foresee the role that radiation would play in cancer treatment, from imaging to staging and actual therapy. Administrative control of the hospital was transferred in 1962 to the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). After four years, the Cancer Research Institute — set up in 1952 — and TMC were merged. Read more about TMC here.
Tata Medical Center
The Tata Medical Center (TMC) was inaugurated on May 16, 2011, by Ratan Tata. It is a philanthropic initiative aimed specifically at helping cancer patients from the east and northeast of India and also from Bangladesh.
TMC’s stated mission is to promote the prevention and cure of cancer patients and provide rehabilitation and palliative care to them. A special emphasis will be given to children suffering from cancer. TMC is a quality cancer-care facility that caters especially, though not exclusively, to the poor of the region. The first phase of the project has space for 170 patients, with a provision for extending capacity to a further 150 patients (figures do not include outpatients). Read more about the Centre here.
Onco Care Centres
ACCF is a cancer care initiative established by the Tata Trusts in 2017, in partnership with the Government of Assam.
Among these facilities are the Onco Care Centres, which aim to strengthen cancer care delivery in the near term, while the establishment of full-fledged oncology facilities are underway. These centres offer chemotherapy, consultation and diagnostic facilities free of cost.
As of January 2021, the Onco Care centre at Dibrugarh is the only daycare centre in the easternmost part of India, catering to the people of Assam and the neighbouring states of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Read more about these centres here.
Cancer Care Initiatives by Tata Trusts
The Trusts’ entry into cancer care dates back to 1941 when the Tata Memorial Hospital opened in Mumbai as a ‘beacon of hope for the hopeless. The management of the hospital was handed over to the Ministry of Health in 1962. In 2012, the Trusts launched the Tata Medical Center in Kolkata to address the high prevalence of cancer and the lack of suitable facilities in the eastern and north-eastern region.
In the last few years, the cancer care vertical at Tata Trusts has increased momentum and has launched initiatives that encompass the entire range of cancer care from preventive to palliative. In short, the Trusts’ interventions in cancer care aim to work across the entire spectrum of the life cycle of a person affected by cancer. Read more about these initiatives here.