The annual Economist Events’ Health Care Forum was held yesterday in Singapore under the theme War on Cancer. The one-day forum presented new thinking of scaling up the responses to cancer in middle- to lower-income countries and innovative ways to finance cancer care and control across the region.
More than 150 panelists and delegates gathered to discuss, share ideas and rethink how governments, international organisations and the private sector can accelerate the funding of improved cancer care and finance key treatments in an efficient and sustainable manner.
The event explored how best to provide affordable care and identify cost-efficient interventions that should be prioritized in Asia’s low- and low-to-middle income countries to manage the growing burden of cancer.
“It is evident that many countries in Asia Pacific are slowly losing control in the war against cancer. We are at a breaking point where the convergence of science and technology has given rise to many breakthrough solutions, yet many patients in low- and middle-income countries still lack basic access to care and struggle with rising out-of-pocket payments with catastrophic economic consequences,” said Charles Goddard, editorial director of the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Paulyn Ubial, Secretary of Health for the Philippines said, “We have targeted to provide 20 million vulnerable Filipinos access to cancer screening services. It is still work in progress, but by December 2016, we managed to cover 85% of these people, and hope to reach 100% by the end of this month.”
“We’ve been used to meager budgets [to fund cancer care], but the sin tax has increased our budget by 500%. This has enabled us to expand health coverage in the Philippines and better plan and fund cancer care.”
The event began with an interview of Gregory Simon, Director of Biden Cancer Initiative and former executive director of White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force by Charles Goddard, Editorial Director Asia Pacific, The Economist Intelligence Unit, on “The Politics of Cancer”.
A series of panel discussions and strategy sessions examined new financial models, affordable interventions and how to drive better patient outcomes. Featured speakers included Paulyn Rossell Ubial, secretary of health, The Philippines; Sen-Tien Tsai, Vice minister of health and welfare, Taiwan; MV Ramana, executive vice-president and head of branded markets India and emerging countries, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories; Raman Singh, president, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Middle East and Africa, Mundipharma; Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group; Xavier Chan, head of public health and epidemiology, QuintilesIMS; Isabel Torres, global head of access to medicines, Takeda PharmaceuticalsThiravud Khuhaprema, director, Wattanosoth Bangkok Cancer Hospital, BDMS and Zhao Ping, Chairman of the Cancer foundation of China among others.
Smita Aggarwal, member of the National Managing Committee, Indian Cancer Society echoed the general sentiment of those gathered, “Access to timely funding is what makes the difference in cancer mortality”