The Punjab government on Friday announced that all cancer patients up to the age of 19 years will be covered under a cancer treatment scheme at 18 hospitals in the state, The Chandigarh Tribune reported. Under the Chief Minister’s Cancer Relief Fund, every cancer patient under 19 will be given Rs 1.5 lakh and will not have to pay for treatment till the amount is exhausted.

Earlier, only adult patients were allocated the Rs 1.5 lakh amount for treatment.

“The government is committed to providing tertiary health services to each and every child of the state suffering from cancer,” Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister Brahm Mohindra said at an oncology-related worskshop, reported the Hindustan Times. “We have commenced the first-of-its-kind special awareness programme to ensure health security.”

Mohindra said the Health Department was also training medical officers, staff nurses and auxiliary midwives to conduct cancer screening, especially among women and children in rural areas. “We have already implemented the plan to strengthen facilities at government medical colleges in Patiala and Amritsar and other cancer hospitals to provide quality tertiary health services to the affected children,” he said.

The Punjab Department of Medical Education and Research also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with non-profit organisation CanKids, which helps children living with cancer.