The Union Budget 2022-23 included a new scheme, Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North-East (PM-DevINE), to be implemented through the North-Eastern Council, Ministry of Development of the North-Eastern Region. The objective of the new scheme is to fund infrastructure, in the spirit of PM GatiShakti, and support social development projects conceptualised based on the needs of the northeast region of India.
The population-based cancer registry of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) shows that the Northeast region has the highest incidence of cancer in India. The national average of cancer patients in the country is around 90-120 per lakh population every year, whereas in the North East, it ranges from 220 to 270 patients per lakh population. As per the ICMR report, more than 45,000 new cancer patients are diagnosed every year in the region.
Given the need for cancer care in the Northeast region, Dr B. Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) was set up in 1974 at Guwahati, Assam as a private hospital by a voluntary organisation for the treatment of cancer patients. In 1980, the institute was recognised by the Centre as a Regional Cancer Centre for Treatment & Research, and since November 1989, BBCI has received the support of the Government of Assam, North-Eastern Council and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India. In September 2017, the institute was transferred to DAE under the administrative control of Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai along with existing personnel, assets and liabilities. Today, as many as 14,000 new and 2,00,000 old patients with cancer visit BBCI every year for diagnosis, treatment and check-up.
An initial allocation of Rs 1,500 crore was made for the scheme for 2022-23 and one of the major projects undertaken during the year was, Establishment of Dedicated Services for the Management of Paediatric and Adult Haematolymphoid Cancers in North-East India, to be located at Dr Borwah Cancer Institute (BBCI) Guwahati at an estimated cost of Rs 129 crore. It is hoped that this initiative will lead to a wider spread of cancer treatment in the region, where over the last 11 years, 3,855 children and adults with cancer have come to the BBC for treatment.