Mizoram: Parties forget cancer, state’s great threat

With nearly 1,400 new cancer cases and nearly 700 deaths reported every year, Mizoram, with a population of just 11 lakh, continues to be the state with highest cancer cases in the country.

C. Lalrinsanga’s turn for chemotherapy came after three hours of wait outside Mizoram State Cancer Institute Hospital here in the outskirts of Aizawl. This has been the routine for the 63-year-old upper division clerk in a Mizoram government department since his lung cancer was detected in January.

“The wait is because of the power cut. It takes just 10 minutes for the therapy but doctors can’t use the machine without electricity. Frequent power cuts make our daily wait long,” he told DH before entering the hospital. Lalrinsanga had travelled for six hours in bus from Lunglei district for treatment. “Roads also are pathetic,” he said.

Lalrinsanga has already spent Rs 4 lakh for treatment.

Asked about elections, Lalrinsanga just smiled and said, “Don’t want to talk about elections because no one bothers about us. Cancer is the most serious issue but is anyone even talking about it?”

With nearly 1,400 new cancer cases and nearly 700 deaths reported every year, Mizoram, with a population of just 11 lakh, continues to be the state with the highest cancer cases in the country.

But the tiny hilly state’s “most serious” issue does not even find mention in manifestos released by major political parties ahead of November 28 Assembly elections. The ruling Congress’ manifesto promises that the new Mizoram medical college would be transformed into one of the best medical colleges in the country, but it does not mention a better cancer hospital.

The regional Mizo National Front, which is confident of coming back to power, does not say anything about its roadmap to help the situation of cancer patients in the state.

The ‘vision document’ of the BJP, which is trying to make inroads in the Christian-majority state, promises a super speciality hospital in each of the eight districts but finds does not mention cancer, the state’s most serious problem.

Jeremy L Pautu, head of the department of the medical oncology in the state’s only cancer hospital told DH that lung cancer was common among women due to rampant smoking and habit of smoked food causes stomach cancer.

“Lung cancer is highest in Mizoram whereas other states mainly report cervical, neck and breast cancer. Apart from patients from across Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, we have to cater to Mizo patients from our neighbouring Myanmar,” he said.

The wait for Lalrinawmih and Laka, suffering from breast and throat cancer respectively, is equally long outside the hospital. “There is only one bus for the patients and one chemotherapy machine here. This makes our wait longer and treatment painful,” John’s elder brother, PC John said.

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Mizoram: Parties forget cancer, state’s great threat

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