Kumarapuram is model for Ayush

The survey identified that most of the victims were women who work in the coir industry.

ALAPPUZHA: The Kumarapuram grama panchayat in Haripad is suffering from a curse: It has the largest number of cancer patients (127) in 15 wards and most of them are women (51) afflicted with breast cancer. They work in the coir industry which uses the coir fibre brought from Tamil Nadu, which is laced with cancer-causing chemicals.

The panchayat introduced ‘Vision 2019,’ a two-year cancer prevention project, in 2007 to bring succour to the cancer patients. This has been selected as a successful model in public health intervention to be presented at the debut international Ayush conclave which will be held in Thiruvananthapuram on February 15.

Under the project, the panchayat, in association with the primary health centre, provides routine care and protection, including free medicines, to the patients.

Mr S. Sureshkumar, panchayat president, said that their scheme was selected for the event after a pre-conclave of public heath intervention models in south and north zone panchayats conducted by the Ayush department with the help of the health department.

“We introduced this project after a local survey found that Kamarapuram residents were fast becoming victims of cancer. The survey identified that most of the victims were women who work in the coir industry,” he said.

The people of Kumara-puram, located at least two km east of the coastal belt, depend on traditional coir industry for livelihood.

“At present, the coir manufacturing societies imp-ort coir fibre from Tamil Nadu instead of relying on local sources. The use of chemicals in fibre processing in Tamil Nadu is very high. We have given a request to the Regional Cancer Centre to carry out a scientific study on the matter,” Mr Kumar said.

As part of ‘Vision 2019,’ the panchayat had set up a committee on cancer prevention chaired by the president which ensured the care of patients at regular intervals.

Dr. S. Sreeni, nodal officer of the project, said that steps were being taken for early detention and treatment. “We have asked all women workers in the coir sector to wear gloves and masks to prevent the absorption of carcinogens,” he said. Prosthetics and medicines are being distributed to patients for which the panchayat has earmarked Rs 12 lakh. Cancer prevention camps and awareness classes have also been organised.

The panchayat representatives will make a presentation at the conclave which will be attended by 3,000 delegates from 50 countries.

Its focus is on interventions in public health and improving the safety, quality and efficacy of Ayush medicines. The various aspects of Ayush practice, research and academics will also be discussed.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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