Malaysia's Health Ministry is reviewing the fees of cancer treatments in government hospitals said Deputy Health Director-General Dr. S. Jeyaindran.

He said the review will be taking into account the burden on the people, especially the bottom 40% income group (B40), those with disabilities (OKU) and senior citizens.

“The charge imposed at government hospitals is very minimum and fully subsidised, that is almost free, compared to private hospitals which charged between and tens of thousands of ringgit depending on the type of treatment and seriousness of the disease.

“There are patients who are referred from a private hospital to a government hospital and they are willing to pay, but there is no fee structure for this kind of treatment,” he added.

Patients concerned despite minimal charge

The charge is said to be minimal - 20% of the actual cost of cancer treatment - and will not create extra burden. For patients who are less likely to afford the treatments, such as B40, OKU and senior citizens, they could refer to the ministry's welfare officers at the hospitals concerned and apply for exemptions, said Jeyaindran.

There are currently six reference hospitals for cancer treatment; the National Cancer Institute, Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Penang Hospital, Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Bahru, Sarawak General Hospital and Likas Hospital in Kota Kinabalu.

However the MOH's move has caused concern among patients, with many disagreeing with the decision. Colorectal cancer patient Raja Noor Ahmad Fahmi Raja Zahari, 36 said that the review could lead to a hike in treatment charges.

"I consider myself lucky as I am a civil servant and my hospital bills are covered. However I have to pay my chemoports and colostomy bags, which cost about RM500 a month," he said.

Retiree Norsham Mohd Shariff, 60, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, said she hoped that the government would charge fairly.

"Not many people can afford the cost of cancer treatments, especially the low-and the middle-income earners. It would be better if the charges remain unchanged," she added.

Late stage diagnoses is increasing cost of cancer treatments

Jeyaindran highlighted that most cancer patients were diagnosed in later stages, hence increasing the cost of treatment. Despite various programmes have been implemented by the government to reduce the risk of cancer among citizens, including administering Human Papilloma (HPV) vaccinations to teenage girls to prevent cervical cancer, citizens should be screened often.

He also emphasised that traditional medicine practitioners were required to be registered under the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Act to provide alternative cancer treatments. At the National Cancer Institute, acupuncture and the use of Chinese traditional herbs are also used to treat side-effects from cancer treatment. MIMS

Jeyaindran highlighted that most cancer patients were diagnosed in later stages, hence increasing the cost of treatment. Photo credit: The Sun Daily
Jeyaindran highlighted that most cancer patients were diagnosed in later stages, hence increasing the cost of treatment. Photo credit: The Sun Daily


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Sources:
http://www.nst.com.my/news/2017/02/209475/health-ministry-review-cancer-treatment-rates-govt-hospitals
http://www.nst.com.my/news/2017/02/209786/health-ministrys-treatment-rate-review-raises-concern
http://www.malaysiaoutlook.com/government-to-review-charge-for-cancer-treatment/
http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2150434