Kerala

Local body gears up to fight cancer

A large number of cancer cases, affecting the intestinal tract, blood, lungs, and liver, along with a high rate of congenital disorders among the residents of Nelliyampathy has forced the grama panchayat to initiate a massive action plan identifying and treating each affected person.

Indiscriminate use of pesticides in about 56 tea plantations in Nelliyampathy has caused chronic poisoning, resulting in a large number of cancer cases.

The grama panchayat, one of the smallest in the State in terms of population, is now teaming up with Dr. Mooppan’s Foundation, charity wing of Kochi-based healthcare provider Aster Medcity, Palakkad Fort Town Lions Club, and Chennai-based Centre for Lifeskills Learning to address the problem. A massive health survey would be held this week as a prelude.

Grama panchayat president M. Jincy told The Hindu said the panchayat had taken the decision after the staff at the primary health centre there expressed anxiety over the growing number of cancer cases. Pain and palliative care volunteers working among chronic cancer patients in the plantation regions have also demanded a health survey and subsequent action.

Located at 467 m to 1,572 m above sea level, the Nelliyampathy plantations have over 10,000 workers and they include a number of migrant labourers from West Bengal. “We hope the survey can clearly establish the ink between pesticides and cancer. Highly poisonous pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and chemicals are used in the plantations here.

Tribal people are also bearing the brunt,” said Ms. Jincy. “We have designed the project ensuring large-scale participation. The detection and after-care strategies would be implemented with the active involvement of volunteers and people’s representatives,” said Latheef Kasim of Dr. Mooppan’s Foundation.

The panchayat feels that the main challenge in Nelliyampathy was the lack of awareness about cancer and its causes. “People in general are averse to opting for proper diagnosing and treatment. The area has very limited health-care facilities. Tribal people and workers in isolated and remote settlements often lack knowledge about the health risks posed by indiscriminate use of pesticides and chemicals,” said Ms. Jincy.

“Better awareness is key to fighting the threat effectively in the coming years. We will launch awareness campaigns along with other follow up actions,” said Sajeev Thomas, president of the Lions Club.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 2:32:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/Local-body-gears-up-to-fight-cancer/article16726142.ece

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