NICPR successfully concludes first virtual certificate program on cancer screening

National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research in partnership with ECHO India has successfully organized the first of its kind training program in India that gives an insight into cancer screening; including oral, breast and cervical screening

NICPR team organising a comprehensive cancer screening camp in Dadri, Greater Noida on world cancer day on 4th February.

New Delhi: The three most commonly occurring cancers in India are breast, uterine cervix and oral cancers, together accounting for one-third of India’s cancer burden. All three are usually detectable at early stages, and malignancies of the oral cavity and cervix have precancerous stages that are amenable to secondary prevention. Therefore, screening and early detection of these three cancers will help to markedly reduce the cancer burden in India.

In order to overcome this issue, National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR) in partnership with ECHO India has successfully organized the first ever certificate program on cancer screening through a virtual format.

NICPR-ECHO started its ‘Cancer Screening Certificate Program’ to empower healthcare providers and anyone interested in knowing about the basics of cancer screening (like public health professionals etc.) and provide knowledge on screening methods and treatment modalities. The program aims to build capacity in cancer screening among healthcare providers to prepare them for the MoHFW mandate of rolling out population-based cancer screening under the National Non-Communicable Disease program.

The program had 58 participants joining from various states of the country, including two spokes from North East and internationally (Libya and Peru), respectively. Participants from various renowned institutes from India such as AIIMS – Delhi, Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, NIRRH, PHFI, Manipal University, NCDIR, GKNMH, JIPMER, CRI-SRIHU, Cachar Cancer Hospital, NCDC-Libya etc. actively participated in the program. These participants were trained by experts from leading national and international institutions like IARC-France, AIIMS, NIMHANS, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) among others.

These participants were trained virtually through didactics, case presentations, video demonstrations of procedures and reading materials, including scientific research publications.

The first batch was concluded on January 25, 2018 after twenty weeks of training. e-Certificates were provided to individuals who had attended a minimum of 14 sessions and presented atleast one case.

Prof Ravi Mehrotra, Director, NICPR, said: The NICPR-ECHO’s virtual training sessions in cancer prevention are very important to train health care providers in India, considering the proposed population based cancer screening in the country by the Government of India (GoI). ECHO should have a major role to play in capacity building in the country, especially in rural and underserved areas.

Dr (Col) Kumud M. Rai, Chairman, ECHO India, said: Cancer screening is not a part of the medical curriculum in medical schools and therefore we decided to partner with NICPR and provide a platform to train doctors, super specialists, gynecologists, radiologists and others. The cancer screening ECHO program is the only platform in India where they can learn about all three common and preventable cancers on a single platform.

The heart of the ECHO model is its hub-and-spoke knowledge-sharing networks, led by expert teams who use multi-point videoconferencing to conduct virtual clinics with community providers. In this way, primary care doctors, nurses, and other clinicians learn to provide excellent specialty care to patients in their own communities.

Project ECHO was started by Dr Sanjeev Arora, a liver disease specialist and distinguished Professor of Medicine at University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, United States who was frustrated that thousands of New Mexicans with Hepatitis C could not get treatment they needed because there were no specialists where they lived. Determined that all patients in need of treatment should get it, Project ECHO was launched in 2003 by pitting local clinicians together with specialist teams at academic medical centres in weekly virtual clinics.

The treatment of Hepatitis C in now available at all centres of excellence across New Mexico and this model proved great success. Following the publication of an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011, Project ECHO gained success and is now followed in 21 countries worldwide. Based on the huge success of Project ECHO in New Mexico, USA, ECHO India was started as a not-for-profit Trust in 2008. The idea was to replicate the ECHO model to improve healthcare delivery to rural and underserved areas of India.