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Home News and Update Year 2010 Assam Pledges Free Vaccines - Sarma Inaugurates GMCH Genetic Lab

Assam Pledges Free Vaccines - Sarma Inaugurates GMCH Genetic Lab

Telegraph India
06 May 2010
Guwahati, India

Assam Pledges Free Vaccines - Sarma Inaugurates GMCH Genetic LabAssam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma takes the swine flu vaccine at GMCH on Wednesday. Picture by Eastern Projections
May 5: Dispur will provide free vaccines to prevent life–threatening diseases like cervical cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and pneumonia in the state.

Health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced this today while inaugurating the free swine flu vaccination programme at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital. He said the government was now focusing on prevention of diseases and had decided to go for an ambitious public vaccination programme against all critical diseases.

He said vaccines for diseases like cervical cancer were yet to be introduced in public–funded programmes in the country because of the heavy cost factor but the state government was exploring possibilities to include the same in vaccination schemes sponsored by it.

“There have been many instances when families of those afflicted by cancer have been ruined financially and emotionally. In 2008, the government introduced free cancer drugs and chemotherapy for those stricken by the disease. Assam has witnessed a sharp rise in the number of cancer patients in recent years and it is time to go for vaccination to prevent the disease,” he said.

Sarma said a clause in the Assam Public Health Bill, 2010, which was passed by the Assembly recently, stipulates that the government will have to make available any vaccine to any disease to ensure the peoples’ right to health. “Whether the vaccine has been invented in India or any part of the globe, the government will have to make it available in Assam.”

A senior doctor at GMCH said effectiveness of breast cancer vaccine was still in the experimental stage but the Union government had approved the commercial sale of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that prevents cervical cancer, the most common cancer among women in India. The US government has recently given its clearance to a prostate cancer vaccine and it will be available in the Indian market soon.

“A vaccine is a very common way of building up the immune system to fight infection. Although vaccines have a strong track record in fighting many serious infections like polio and measles, they are in the experimental stage for cancer. The most challenging aspect is the way cancer progresses. It begins when one of your normal cells becomes abnormal and starts multiplying out of control. But the minister’s announcement to provide vaccines for the disease is very encouraging and creates new scope for treatment and research on cancer in Assam,” he added.

Sarma also inaugurated a genetic lab at the GMCH to help doctors conduct tests on vector–borne diseases. He said the lab, the first of its kind in the region, would help in DNA profiling.

“Students of micro–biology department will benefit as they will be able to conduct research at the lab during their PG course,” he said.

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