India Models New Institute on NCI
, by Romina Cialdella
Health officials in India recently announced that the country of 1.25 billion is establishing a national cancer institute, which will be modeled after the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI). A delegation of leading health officials from the Government of India visited the U.S. in March to discuss plans for the new establishment in India and to learn more about NCI’s intramural research and clinical care operations.
The visit by the Indian delegation follows on the heels of increased high-level discussions between Indian and U.S. officials on greater collaboration between the two countries. The discussions included a visit to the U.S. last year by Indian Prime Minister Modi to meet with President Obama, and a reciprocal visit by President Obama to India earlier this year.
The establishment of a national cancer institute in India comes amid a dramatic increase in cancer incidence and mortality in the country over the past several decades—more than 1.2 million new cases diagnosed every year—an increase driven by high rates of tobacco use, limited access to proven screening methods, and poor treatment outcomes.1 During the meeting, the Indian officials spoke of the challenges presented by the spike in cancer cases in their country and their hopes that, by working with U.S. and other collaborators, they can begin to stem the tide and, at the same time, expand India’s cancer research infrastructure and contributions to global cancer control.
“Cancer is emerging as a major public health concern in India,” said Dr. Goura Kishor Rath from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences under the Ministry of Health Family Welfare. “We hope to work very closely with the U.S. NCI to address this issue, and hope to receive its input in the development of this institute.” Dr. Rath leads the team charged with the establishment of the new cancer institute and has been working together with NCI’s Center for Global Health as they head on this opportunity to advance cancer research in the country.
In efforts to build international collaborations, the Indian delegation also visited NCI-Designated Cancer Centers while in the U.S., including the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Forging partnerships with cancer centers will allow the new institute to exchange cancer information, build a database with reliable data, and develop cancer control policies and programs that will help reduce the global cancer burden.
The proposed institute will promote, coordinate, and conduct research to better understand, detect, diagnose, and treat cancer. In addition to patient care facilities, the institute will have a strong intramural research component. It will carry out translational research, conduct clinical trials, facilitate the development of drugs and medical technologies, support training programs, and improve protocols and the quality of treatment, research, and education across the country.
- Mallath, MK, Taylor, DG, Badwe, RA, et al. The growing burden of cancer in India: epidemiology and social context. Lancet Oncol. 2014; (published online April 11.) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(14)70115-9