The Consultative Meeting with Religious Leaders of Meghalaya in the fight against cancer

Shillong, May 24: A consultative meeting with the religious leaders of Meghalaya, along with the state health authorities, was organized by the department of Surgical Oncology, NEIGRIHMS on the 24th May, 2023.

In his opening address, Dr. Nalin Mehta, Director, NEIGRIHMS, said that Meghalaya is known as the Cancer capital of India and has amongst the highest incidence of cancer (131 per lakh population) in the country and hence it was important to raise awareness through every available option.

Involvement of religious leaders would go a long way in this regard as they are in a position to influence the masses effectively. It was imperative, he added, to utilize all alternatives including various media channels, in formats that would impact children as well as adults.

Dr. Caleb Harris, Associate Professor, Surgical Oncology, said that Meghalaya has the dubious distinction of having the highest incidence of Esophageal cancer in the country, with over 70 per lakh population incidence, which is ten times the national average. Esophageal cancer, he stressed, is caused by use of tobacco, alcohol and betel nut, and hence is preventable.

Mr. Sampath Kumar IAS,Principal Secretary and Commissioner, Health & Family Welfare, Govt. Meghalaya, lauded the initiative and exhorted the religious leaders to use their platforms to raise awareness against tobacco, alcohol and kwai, and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Rev. Fr. Richard Majaw, Secretary of Shillong All Faith Forum and Rev. Edwin Harris Kharkongor, Secretary, Khasi Jaintia Christian Leaders Forum said that to bring about a change in the mind-set of the people, we need to project good role models who stand against tobacco, alcohol and kwai.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Central Puja Committee, Shillong Muslim Union, Shillong Buddhist Association, Unitarian Church and various churches.

The attendees were very moved by the experiences shared by a cancer survivor and the family member of a cancer victim. It was unanimously agreed that religious places should be declared as tobacco-free zones. The meeting ended with a vote of thanks by Dr. Star Pala, Additional Professor of Community Medicine, NEIGRIHMS.

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