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ANSWERED ON:  25.03.2022
Impact of COVID-19 on Reporting of Cancer and HIV Cases
Thomas Chazhikadan
Will the Minister of

HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE be pleased to state:-

(a) the details of the impact of COVID-19 on reporting of cancer cases and detection of HIV cases;

(b) whether the Government anticipates an increase in the reporting of incidence of cancer and HIV during the post pandemic phase; and

(c) if so, the details of the measures being taken by the Government to address the situation?


(a) to (c) A Statement is laid on the Table of the House.


(a) to (c): As per the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Cancer Registry Data Report on “National Cancer Registry Programme Report, 2020”, the estimated number of incidence and mortality of cancer cases in the country are 13.92 lakhs and 7.70 lakhs respectively. Patients of cancer with COVID19 are getting treatment at various health facilities in the health care delivery system including Districts Hospitals, Medical Colleges, Central Institutes like AIIMS and private sector hospitals. Relevant data related to patients registered for treatment, is maintained by the Institutions and Hospitals concerned at their own level.

Health is a state subject. The Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India however, provides technical and financial support to the States/UTs under the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS), as part of National Health Mission (NHM), based on the proposals received from the States/UTs and subject to the resource envelope. Cancer is an integral part of NPCDCS. The programme focusses on strengthening infrastructure, human resource development, health promotion & awareness generation for Cancer prevention, early diagnosis, management and referral to an appropriate level of healthcare facility for treatment of the Non-Communicable Diseases, including Cancer.

Cancer is diagnosed and treated at various levels in the health care facilities. The treatment in Government Hospitals is either free or highly subsidized for the poor and needy. Under NPCDCS, 682 District NCD Clinics, 191 Cardiac Care Units, 264 District Day Care Centres and 5408 CHC NCD Clinics have been set up.
A population-based initiative for prevention, control and screening for common Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) i.e. diabetes, hypertension and common cancers has been rolled out in the country under NHM and also as a part of Comprehensive Primary Health Care. Under the initiative, persons more than 30 years of age are targeted for their screening for the three common cancers i.e oral, breast and cervical. Screening of these common cancers is an integral part of service delivery under Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWC).

The Central Government is also implementing Strengthening of Tertiary Care of Cancer Scheme in order to enhance the facilities for tertiary care of cancer. 19 State Cancer Institutes (SCIs) and 20 Tertiary Care Cancer Centres (TCCCs) have been approved so far under the said scheme. There is also focus on Oncology in its various aspects in case of new AIIMS and many upgraded institutions under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna (PMSSY). Setting up of National Cancer Institute at Jhajjar (Haryana) and second campus of Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, Kolkata are also steps in this direction. All these enhance the capacity for treatment of cancer in the country.

Treatment of Cancers is also available under Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY). Besides, quality generic medicines are made available at affordable prices to all, under Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) in collaboration with the State Governments. Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment (AMRIT) Pharmacy stores have been set up in some hospitals/institutions, with an objective to make available Cancer drugs at a substantial discount vis-à-vis the Maximum Retail Price. Under the umbrella scheme of Rashtrya Arogya Nidhi (RAN), financial assistance is provided to families living below threshold poverty line for their treatment, including treatment of Cancer in Government hospitals.

During the COVID -19 pandemic in order to ensure continuity of health care services Mobile Medical Units were utilized for delivery of services, especially follow up care for NCDs. The screening services were reorganized during the period of lockdown and beyond. Primary healthcare team at Sub-Health Centre (SHC), including HWCs were encouraged to follow up with the specific sub-population groups such as patients undergoing planned procedures like cancer treatment.
States were instructed to ensure uninterrupted availability of cancer treatment services. State Health Department was advised to issue directives to the district administration allowing easy movement of these patients to access care. In case of patients, who could not afford private vehicles, Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) vehicles could be used for facilitating transport of patients.
The HIV disease in India is under control. The prevalence continues to be low with an adult prevalence rate of 0.22% as per the latest HIV Estimations 2020 report of the Government of India.
The Government took necessary steps through NACP at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in February-March 2020 for the uninterrupted supply of free, life-saving, high-quality anti-retroviral (ARVs) medicines ensuring that people living with HIV/AIDS get their ARVs without any difficulty. Community-based service delivery, like the provisioning of anti-retroviral medicines, was facilitated to avoid travel by target beneficiaries and thus facilitating the prevention of COVID-19 infections. Regular review and appropriate reiteration of instructions and advisories were undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic as a key activity to ensure continuity of services.

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