Annually some 150,000 new cancer cases occur in men and women of all ages in Pakistan, and 8% (around 12,000) of those afflicted die every year, Saira Afzal Tarar told the upper house of parliament on Wednesday.
Tarar — minister of state for national health services, regulations and coordination (NHSRC) — cited the World Health Organisation while sharing the statistics.
She told the Senate during the question hour that the government had constituted a committee on non-communicable diseases, which includes cancer. A survey has also been carried out across the country to ascertain the risk factors of these diseases.
The minister blamed tobacco use for most cases of non-communicable diseases in Pakistan. A control unit in the NHSRC is trying to reduce tobacco consumption through legislation and punishment enforced through police and other departments.
Most secondary-care public hospitals, all tertiary-care hospitals and 20 atomic energy commission centres are providing diagnostic and treatment facilities for cancer free of charge, she added.
Meanwhile, Tarar revealed that around 862 million doses of oral polio vaccine were administered to under-five children across the country through national and subnational supplementary immunisation activities between 2013 and 2015.