Alarming Incidence

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There has been an increase in the incidence of cancer in Kashmir over the past years. This can only be alarming. While the administration has revealed the figures and some basic statistics regarding the incidence of cancer and the reasons thereof, the data and its interpretation flounders on the nature and correlation with causes which have been identified as tobacco, life style choices , unhygienic conditions of life and so on. There fall in the realm of the obvious. One other causative agent (psychological and emotional) for the fatal and rather incurable illness is stress. It amounts to stating the obvious that life in Kashmir is stressful. So, in this sense, it is also the context and the environment in Kashmir that could be a determinative or a causative agent of the dreaded disease (illness). It, by its very nature, and the inability of medical science to find a durable and real cure, means that once an individual is stricken by the disease, and if the disease has progressed beyond a certain stage, means that life chances of the stricken individual are dim, if nonexistent. So, given the nature of the disease, it is in prevention that lies in the cure. The question or the issue is the nature of the prevention. While identifying causes, reasons and causative agents for cancer is good, but the challenge lies in creating conditions wherein these causes get short shrift. Public health and hygiene, constitutes a public good and hence is the domain of the administration(s). It is therefore imperative for or on the administration to create conditions for the amelioration of diseases of all kinds and sorts, especially cancer. This, by itself, means going beyond mere awareness campaigns. Powers that be need to get real and not only rev up the machinery meant for improving public health and hygiene but also going the extra mile. In practice, this approach can and must mean more spending on health and perhaps even more importantly, the efficiency and efficacy of this spending. Concomitantly, public health interventions must be both general and specific. Key lies in creating conditions that make the spread of disease(s), especially cancer, less likely. Cancer, in the final analysis, is a disease, which is insidious, dangerous and fatal. It can strike anyone at anytime. Let this fact concentrate minds and let it open the possibility of creating an environment where the obvious causes find no space to develop.