January 10, 2014
Mumbai (Maharashtra)

PM’s address at the foundation stone laying ceremony for the National Hadron Beam Facility and Cancer Centre for Women and Children

“It is a privilege for me to have this opportunity to lay the foundation stone for the National Hadron Beam Facility at the Tata Memorial Centre in Mumbai. This is the first such facility in India and it places India among a select group of countries in the world to offer this advanced treatment method for cancer.

Our Government attaches great importance to the establishment of this facility and we are pleased that the Department of Atomic Energy and Tata Memorial Centre have been able to quickly translate a vision into a concrete plan of action. We expect this project, costing around Rs. 425 crores and funded entirely by the Government of India through the Department of Atomic Energy, to be completed in less than four years.

It is not surprising that Tata Memorial Centre should be the institution in India to have taken this very important step forward in cancer treatment. Since its inception more than six decades ago as the pioneer centre for cancer research and treatment in India, this outstanding institution has been associated with virtually every milestone in treatment of cancer in our country. The Centre has been at the forefront of our national efforts to establish new frontiers of medical science and treatment in India. More importantly, its commitment to bringing cancer treatment within the reach of the poorest makes this institution the pride of our nation and a beacon of hope for those afflicted by this disease of cancer. The Centre has truly lived up to its motto of “Service, Research & Education” and I complement all those associated with this unique centre of our country.

There are many here who are more qualified than I am to speak about the intricacies and impact of Hadron Beam Therapy in the treatment of cancer. I know that most cancer patients have to receive radiation therapy at some point during their treatment. But traditional methods have limitations and also cause damage to the surrounding tissues. I was therefore pleased to note that Hadron Beam Therapy can deliver treatment in a more precise manner, such that damage to healthy tissues is reduced.

While this technology is new to India, I have little doubt that the Tata Memorial Centre will quickly develop world class capacity in its application. I am gratified to learn that the Centre will also continue the practice of providing free treatment to poor patients. Overall, nearly 1500 patients will benefit from this Facility every year. The project also includes a dedicated Cancer Centre for Women and Children. Just as important, the Facility will enable Tata Memorial Centre to further advance their research and understanding on the application of Hadron Beam Therapy to the treatment of different types of cancer in our country. It will also provide training and education to develop the human resources for the expansion of such facilities in our country.

I can hardly overemphasize the gravity of the problem of cancer emerging as one of the leading causes of death globally, its incidence in India or the particularly large share of fatalities taking place in developing countries. I do wish to say, however, that the Government of India has made fighting and preventing cancer a top priority in the national health sector.

This is the third cancer treatment facility for which I am laying the foundation stone in less than two weeks. On the 30th of December, I laid the foundation stone for the Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Chandigarh. This is also being established by the Tata Memorial Centre and it will bring the same standard of treatment that the Centre offers in Mumbai to patients in North India. On 3rd January, I was in Jhajjar in Haryana to lay the foundation stone for the National Cancer Institute, which is being established under the aegis of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. In addition, we will soon launch the construction of another regional hub of the Tata Memorial Centre in Vishakapatnam, which will serve patients from South India.

We are also setting up a National Cancer Centre, supported by Regional Cancer Centres and Tertiary Cancer Centres. A National Cancer Grid is being set up to facilitate easy exchange of information about cancer. We are constantly intensifying and expanding our efforts on cancer research and establishing population-based cancer registries. Our effort is to ensure that a patient is able to access the most advanced cancer treatment as close as possible to his or her home, and at an affordable cost.

Today’s event is yet another demonstration of our Government’s prioritization of the health sector since 2004. This is a special occasion for the people of Maharashtra and the nation at large. I would like to thank the Government of Maharashtra, the Chief Minister, my friend Prithviraj Chavan for providing the requisite land and other facilities for setting up this unique facility, and for its unstinted support for this project of national importance. The State Government of Maharashtra has always been supportive of the activities of the Tata Memorial Centre, and of the Department of the Atomic Energy, which is headquartered in Mumbai, and the Government of India is grateful to the Government of Maharashtra for this support.

I would like to congratulate the Tata Memorial Center and the Department of Atomic Energy, and I wish them all success in bringing this important project to fruition at the very earliest.

Thank you and Jai Hind.”