KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 – Deputy Health Minister II Aaron Ago Dagang has highlighted the challenge of addressing the gap in Malaysia’s cancer care and treatment services.
Approximately 49,000 people in Malaysia were estimated to be newly diagnosed with cancer in 2020, and this is expected to rise to more than 66,000 new cases annually by 2030, according to the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy.
At the launch of the Galen Centre’s “Oncology Summit: Meeting the promise of cancer care in Malaysia” last Friday, Aaron emphasised the urgency to make long-term commitments to cancer care to prevent higher mortality due to later-stage diagnoses in the months and years to come.
“Lives continue to be lost to cancer, especially in East Malaysia where related services are far and few,” the Galen Centre quoted Aaron as saying at the forum.
Cancer is still one of the leading causes of premature death in the country. Most cancer patients are diagnosed late at Stages 3 and 4. According to one study quoted by the Galen Centre, one in seven Malaysians is now estimated to develop cancer before reaching 75 years of age.
Aaron emphasised that the task of delivering and closing the gap on cancer care was not solely the responsibility and burden of the government.
“We need to work together,” he was quoted saying at the event organised by the Galen Centre and pharmaceutical company Takeda Malaysia.
He highlighted the need for stronger accountability mechanisms for cancer care and to forge stronger collaborations through public-private partnership frameworks to drive greater cooperation and collaboration between stakeholders.
“One size doesn’t fit all, and every challenge demands a different solution.”
The deputy health minister highlighted that Malaysia needed to close the cancer care gap to ensure that the country is able to achieve the health targets under SDG 3 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
“Increasing investments in cancer care is not about spending more to treat a disease. It is about saving lives,” he was quoted saying.