Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Malaysia - Task force happy with focus on healthcare
KUCHING: The Sarawak branch of Together Against Cancer (TAC) Malaysia’s task force is pleased that both Barisan Nasional (BN) and PKR are touching on the topic of healthcare in the run up to the state election.
Sarawak BN’s point no 9 in its list of 15-point manifesto says ‘Enhance accessibility to health service’ whereas PKR’s 18-point roadmap includes ‘Healthcare for the rural’ in point no 9.
“Cancer is in fact a leading cause of death in Malaysia. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD2010)  years of life lost, cancer ranks fourth after circulatory diseases (heart disease and stroke), infection and injury.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer through its GLOBOCAN project  has estimated that there were 37,400 new cases of cancer and 21,700 cancer deaths in Malaysia in 2012. The top 5 ranking cancers in Malaysia are breast (5,410 cases), large intestine (colo-rectum 4,539), lung (4,403), cervix (2,145), and throat (nasopharynx, 2,030).
“A person’s lifetime risk of getting any cancer in Malaysia, depending on their race, varies from 20 per cent to 35 per cent. In other words, at least one in every five persons will likely to be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Isn’t it alarming?” said a press release from TAC.
The task force was formed earlier this year after a workshop on Cancer Advocacy education by TAC Malaysia to work on a few key initiatives in support of improved cancer care particularly for Sarawak to be achieved within the next five years.
Though more specific and more recent data for Sarawak cancer occurrence is not easily made available, there are currently only five oncologists in Kuching (public and private combined) serving the entire Sarawak with the population of 2.6 million.
The adequacy of number of oncologists to the rising needs of cancer treatment is truly valid.
Also, there is not even a State Cancer Hospital in the capital, but only an Oncology Unit (RTU) at Sarawak General Hospital where patients from all the cities, towns and villages in Sarawak flock in to seek consultation from the only few oncologists for their treatment ranging from surgery to chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other drugs administration.
TAC is pushing for the setting up of a state cancer hospital in Kuching to cater to the increasing treatment needs for Sarawak; enabling access and reducing logistics problems for Sarawakians by establishing centres of cancer care in various cities with adequate number of medical oncologists and staff; setting up of state Cancer Drugs Fund; and Cancer Health Education and Early Screening.
“We hope that the political parties understand better the needs for better cancer care for Sarawak and genuinely make an effort to make things happen, when they are given the opportunity to serve the people for the next five years.”