This post was authored by Sejal Mistry of ACCESS Health Singapore.
Cancer is a leading killer in Southeast Asia. It is time for urgent action to reverse the growing tide of mortality in the region.
As a consultant with ACCESS Health Singapore, I was invited to participate in an Economist Intelligence Unit event in Jakarta called War on Cancer South-East Asia. The event brought together policymakers, industry leaders and experts to engage in a spirited discussion on common health system challenges and share solutions to address the regional cancer crisis.
A common refrain from the day’s discussion was the need for more money to implement cancer control plans. Participants recognized, however, that major increases in government spending for cancer are not forthcoming.
Given this reality, what are other the other avenues to increase cancer funding and ensure that money is well spent? Over the last five months, three ACCESS Health offices – Singapore, China, and India – worked together to conduct a nine country comprehensive study of funding models of cancer services in Asia. This work revealed that traditional models of funding leave major gaps that result in inadequate financial protection, incomplete coverage of essential cancer services, and inequitable access to those services. However, it also revealed a subset of innovative approaches that funders were using to reduce the gaps.
At the event, we kicked off the panel discussion with a presentation on key findings on innovations from the study highlighting that 1) innovations in cancer funding are being driven by partnerships, 2) the majority of innovations observed did not result in new models of funding but enhanced on existing approaches, and 3) the strategy for innovations can be aligned with the national plans for universal health coverage.
A lively discussion followed with co panelists and the audience regarding the incentives for bringing in private insurance to participate in public private partnerships to co finance cancer treatment. In particular the discussion focused on the host country, Indonesia’s, efforts to implement the largest system of UHC in the world and what can be done to ensure that co-financing and innovative solutions for cancer are included in these plans.
The panel and day’s discussion overall highlighted the desire and need for a better understanding of health systems and health financing solutions for cancer in the region – an effort to which that ACCESS Health is well placed to contribute.