- NET Web Desk
Meghalaya, popularly referred as the ‘Abode of Clouds’ has been left dominated with the escalating tobacco consumption by its population; posing serious health risk. As a result, the northeastern state has now emerged as the “cancer capital” of India; informed the Additional Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department and Mission Director of National Health Mission (NHM) – Ram Kumar.
Addressing the gathering at Shillong during the occasion of ‘World Tobacco Day’ on Tuesday, Kumar highlighted that Meghalaya is the “cancer capital of India as far as esophagus, lungs, nose and throat cancers are concerned”.
“Almost 34 per cent of 13-15 years old and 47 per cent (aged 15+) consume tobacco in Meghalaya,” – stated Kumar.
He emphasized the need of early detection and lifestyle changes, mentioning that school involvement at the district and block levels has been critical in raising awareness about the effects of tobacco on health, community, and the environment.
Kumar further added that “this initiative has received backing from village chiefs, parents, legislators, and religious leaders. We will undoubtedly observe behavioural changes in the community towards cigarettes if comparable workshops are undertaken every six months.”
“Our people are being consumed by tobacco, and youngsters are the easy prey. The average life expectancy of Meghalaya is 62.3 years, which is lower than the national average of 68.8 years (WHO, 2018). In terms of cancer prevalence among men, our state is ranked second in the country, while it is placed 11th in terms of cancer incidences among women (ICMR-NCDIR, 2021),” – informed the Principal Secretary (Health) – P. Sampath Kumar.
The Departments of Education and Health collaborated with a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) – Sambandh Health Foundation (SHF) to mark this year’s ‘World No Tobacco’ Day, themed on “Protect the environment” in more than 8000 schools across Meghalaya.