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Kerala agency's war on cancer with tech vital, say experts

The countrys primary health centres (PHCs) play a key role in checking cancer deaths even as increasing reliance on technology to fight the disease makes an agency like the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) vital, it was said at a national symposium here on Friday.

Delayed diagnosis is killing two-thirds of Indias cancer patients. This can be checked only if rural healthcare facilities come up with a stronger awareness drive on the malignant disease, according to CanQuer, the 3rd annual symposium hosted by Cochin Cancer Research Centre (CCRC) and KSUM.

Such PHC-centric programmes need to be held regularly to sense early suspicion of cancer, thus leading to prompt diagnosis and treatment, speakers said on the inaugural day of the November 8-10 event at KSUMs Integrated Startup Complex near here.

All the same, the countrys PHCs are generally not staffed enough to let their workers attend training sessions spanning three months to gain basic expertise in join the fight against cancer.

Availability of experts to groom them is another issue, pointed out experts at the opening session on Digital Platform for PHC Training.

Technology to Eliminate Cancer Care Disparity is the key theme of the three-day event.

Gauravi Mishra, who heads the Department of Preventive Oncology at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, stressed the need for a standardised module to battle the set of diseases defined by abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade the whole body.

Moni Kuriakose of CCRC (Ernakulam District) said Kerala had no less than 80 cancer centres, the density of which is on par with developed nations.

Yet, they require thorough integration with the PHCs for improved performance, he added.

KSUM chief executive officer Dr Saji Gopinath said Keralas agency for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities has great potential in grooming startups that are into medicine, moreso cancer care.

Already, KSUM is working with the state government in its efforts to strengthen PHCs through projects such as Aardram that aims at people-friendly health delivery, he said.

Only recently, an Odisha-based researchers startup on cancer drug delivery system that the KSUM mentored won recognition in Beijing. The day-one sessions at CanQuer included Comprehensive Digital Platform for Patient Education and Tracking and Integration of Primary and Tertiary Cancer Care.