Punjab and Cancer

Punjab is primarily an agricultural state of India and it used to enjoy the benefits of fertile lands and abundance of water. It is a land of ethnic and religious diversity. The five rivers Sutlej, Beas, Chenab, Ravi and Jhelum gave its name punjab or the land of five waters and presence of rivers divided the Punjab state in to three major regions Majha, Doaba and Malwa. Post-independence, Punjab has made a considerable economic progress despite the setback it suffered in 1947. The green revolution adopted by people of Punjab has made it a leading producer of food grains (two thirds to total production) and a third of milk production in the country. It is still a leading producer of wheat at a total production of 2 million tonnes per annum. The region is one of the most prosperous state in India with per capita income twice of the national average.

However the flip side of green revolution was the use of high amount of synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides for increasing agriculture production. A survey conducted by Centre for science and Environment (CSE) in 2018 on the blood samples of villagers has enumerated the results of 6 to 13 different varieties of  pesticides (HCH, DDT, Aldrin, endosulfan, chloropyrifos and malathion) are virtually present in all the blood samples. Punjab alone accounts for the 20% of the India’s pesticide consumption. Organochlorine DDT which has been used maximally during and after green revolution has affected the maximum gene pool of the population of this region due to its toxicity, non-biodegradability and accumulation in human body and plant tissues. The food samples, cow milk and breast milk have been found to confirm pesticides presence. The intensive use of pesticides has caused the various environmental degradation effects like decaying soil, pest infested crops, indepted and discontented farmers. As per the report in U.S.News in 2008 the price Punjab had to pay for food security are comprises of ailments like cancer, renal failure, neurological disorders, birth defects and many more to the people of Punjab. Almost all cities of Punjab have been affected through devastating effects of already existing cancer patients and their management as well as from thousands of new cancer diagnosed patients are emerging from the existing population in these regions. The cotton belt which used to be Bathinda for highest cancer incidence cases are no longer only the city affected by increased incidence of cancers however the however Ludhiana, Amritsar, Mansa, Patiala, and the Muktsar are reporting a large number of diagnosed cancer cases. The cancer belt Malwa and Sangrur having patients fighting for the cancer. As per a recent report published in November 2019 the statistics of cancer incidences almost risen by 300% in the last one year which include oral, cervical and breast cancer. The Majha region in Amritsar has been reported to have highest rate of breast cancer patients.

There should be strategies adopted and implemented for minimum or alternative to pesticides and fertilizers to be used by farmers with strong regulation from Government. The private companies and supply chain distributor must pay a leading role in effective implementation of all the policies on regulations in a society. Despite various efforts of Government in regulating toxic chemicals and providing fund through various schemes like Mukhya Mantri Punjab Cancer Raahat Kosh Scheme (MMPCRKS) there should be an involvement of industry-academia collaborative approach for the implementation of strategy on early stage diagnosis of cancer prior to its occurrence and developing a low cost diagnostic device for every person in Punjab for self-diagnosis. We as a consultant and leader in medical device technology development have international experiences in various technology tools development. With international and national collaborations in leading tech and device development we may help our client, partner and companies to come up with novel technological tool and device development for diagnosis and treatment of various diseases.

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