By Selangor Journal Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: DAP Klang lawmaker Charles Santiago today urged the health ministry to set up National Cancer Fund to assist Malaysian deal with the increasing cost and cases as of late.

He suggested that the government provide a start up fund of RM5 million for the proposed fund to help those with a household income of RM5,000 and below that are affected by cancer.

“The rising costs and an increase in the number of people affected by cancer mean the government must look into making drugs and treatment affordable and accessible to the poor.

“Cancer medication and chemotherapy could easily range from RM50,000 to a whopping RM300,000. A 2015 survey showed that nearly half of the cancer patients were financially broke just a year after diagnosis,” he said in a statement

Santiago took note of Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad’s recent revelation that cancer was the 4th most common cause of death in Malaysia.

He also called for the government to look into integrated plans, similar to the National Comprehensive Cancer Control Programme in the US.

This he said is to establish coalitions, assessing the burden of cancer, determining priorities, and developing and implementing comprehensive cancer control plans.

“The comprehensive cancer control programme can focus on encouraging mandatory screening to enable early detection, promoting healthy lifestyles, educating people about cancer symptoms, increasing access to quality cancer care and enhancing cancer survivors’ quality of life,” he said.

Santiago also recommends that the government followed the footsteps of India, Thailand and Colombia in exercising “compulsory licensing” or “government use” provisions in trade-related intellectual property rights in order to produce cancer drugs locally or to import generic cancer medication.

He said next month’s Budget 2019 speech would be a good place for the government to make these commitments to support and alleviate the burden of the people.

The health ministry in its report called “Malaysian Study on Cancer Survival” stated that cancer was responsible for 12.6% of all deaths in government hospitals and 26.7% of all deaths in private hospitals.

The report said there were about 37,000 newly-diagnosed cases of cancer every year, where the figure was estimated to reach 55,000 by 2030.

 

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