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The Trusts’ entry into cancer care dates back to 1941 when the Tata Memorial Hospital opened in Mumbai as a ‘beacon of hope for the hopeless’. The management of the hospital was handed over to the Ministry of Health in 1962. In 2012, the Trusts launched the Tata Medical Center in Kolkata to address the high prevalence of cancer and the lack of suitable facilities in the eastern and north-eastern region.

In the last few years, the cancer vertical has increased momentum and has launched initiatives that encompass the entire range of cancer care from preventive to palliative. In short, the Trusts’ interventions in cancer-care aim to work across the entire spectrum of the life cycle of a person affected by cancer.

The Trusts are setting up cancer research and treatment centres in Varanasi, Tirupati, Bhubaneshwar, Ranchi, Allahabad and Mangalore. The Trusts are also partnering state governments in building state-wide cancer facility networks in Assam, Odisha, Jharkhand, Telangana and Nagaland.

As part of a comprehensive nationwide intervention, the Trusts have supported the formation of the National Cancer Grid. The Grid is a pan-India network of major cancer centres, research institutes, patient groups and charitable institutions. Its mandate is to establish uniform standards of patient care for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

The Trusts also support cross-subsidised screening programmes for common cancers; the aim of every initiative, including exploring the possibility of genetic testing, is to ensure greater awareness and accessibility to cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment.

The Trusts follow a four-pronged strategy in order to shift cancer diagnosis to early stage:
  • Community outreach programmes
    • Delivering preventive health packages at community level using the state health system, with the support of partner organisations. The aim is to strengthen the populations’ knowledge, practice and attitudes on cancer.
    • Developing awareness programmes and behaviour change communication using sports and games, cultural programmes rallies, storytelling, etc.
    • Conducting community-based awareness programmes using different cohorts working in the community such as accredited social health activists (ASHAs), auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs), NGOs, FBOs, Panchayat Raj institute members, community leaders and student bodies.
  • Training and capacity building: Strengthening the capacities of the healthcare system to prevent and control oral, breast and cervical cancers by supporting the state non-communicable disease (NCD) cell in training and capacity building of healthcare providers.
  • Tobacco control: Engaging with the National Tobacco Control Programme, advocating the implementation of tobacco-control laws (COTPA), creating tobacco-free educational institutions, supporting higher tax rates etc. The Trusts also train and sensitise enforcement officers such as the police, municipal corporation, local regulatory bodies, etc.
  • Management information system: The Trusts use the NCD app released by the government for universal prevention, control, screening and management initiative under Ayushman Bharat, the Government of India’s comprehensive public healthcare programme. This facilitates better patient management, tracking and follow-up.

The Trusts deploy all donations to strengthen the government system to promote cancer prevention and early detection so as to make a systemic change in the health sector. Specifically, the funds are used to upgrade infrastructure at sub-centres and primary healthcare centres as well as to train human resources at these sites. The initial focus is on Maharashtra, Assam, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Read about how the Tata Trusts are holistically transforming cancer care in the country by partnering with state governments and like-minded organisations in 'Touching Lives', a publication by Tata Sustainability Group. It showcases a selection of the work Tata companies and the Tata Trusts do for the communities they serve. Click here

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