Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Thursday launched a Rs. 200-crore programme to prevent cervical and breast cancer and heart disease.

The programme coincided with the 125th anniversary of the Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children and inauguration of buildings constructed at a cost of Rs 1.80 crore. The amount was released from the Assembly Constituency Development Fund of the Chief Minister, representing Chepauk Assembly constituency. The hospital was founded in 1885.

“Money is not important. Doctors should ensure that no life is lost due to negligence or denial of treatment in government hospitals,” said Mr. Karunanidhi.

Recalling media reports about deaths owing to negligence, he said though the news was published against the government, it was the duty of the doctors to disprove the reports. “Be true to your conscience and adopt a humane approach,” he advised them.

Principal Secretary, Health, V.K. Subburaj, explained that in Tamil Nadu, 20 per cent of the people had hypertension and 30 per cent people suffered from diabetes. “These indicators will ultimately end up in heart diseases.”

Mr. Subburaj pointed out that though 90 per cent of cancer cases could be prevented, most of them were diagnosed only at a later stage, making it difficult for the medical world to save lives. “The prevention programme will target 2.5 crore men and 1.5 crore women who have crossed 30 years of age.”

Chief Secretary S. Malathi said the health indicators in Tamil Nadu were much higher when compared to the overall figures in the country. “Infant mortality rate in the country is 53 per 1000 while it is only 31 in Tamil Nadu. Similarly maternal mortality rate is 253 per lakh in the country while it is only 111 in Tamil Nadu.”

Union Textile Minister Dayanidhi Maran said women had benefited more under the DMK regime.

Health Minister M.R.K. Pannerselvam, Director of Medical Education V. Kanagasabai, Dean of the Madras Medial College J. Mohanasundaram and Director of the Kastuba Hospital M. Mohanambal participated.