The government plans to screen the nation's entire population in the next five years for cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and strokes for early detection and treatment of the ailments, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Tuesday.
He said during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha that a pilot project has been launched in 100 districts of 21 states for prevention and early detection of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and strokes.
"India will be the first country in the world to screen the entire population in the next five years," he said.
Under the pilot project, the government has provided equipment and human resources for detection and treatment, he said.
"As per the latest estimates of Indian Council of Medical Research, the prevalence of cancer in the country is about 27 lakh," he said.
The incidence of new cancer cases every year in the country is about 11 lakh and nearly five lakh people die every year from the ailment, he said.
The government, he said, provides free cancer treatment for people living the Below Poverty Line. Under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi, up to Rs 1.5 lakh per case is provided as assistance to all BPL patients.
Further, the health ministry gives financial assistance in cases where assistance sought is more than Rs 1.5 lakh in each case.
"However, this assistance is available only for BPL patients taking treatment in government hospitals," he said.
In addition, financial assistance is given to poor patients up to Rs 50,000 in each case, Azad said, adding that during the current year, 2,202 cancer patients have been given financial help.