The Cancer Funding Gap in Asia: New partnerships needed for finance solutions

SINGAPORE, July 18, 2018 – ACCESS Health International launched a report, Innovative funding models for cancer treatment in Asia: A landscape study of funding trends and innovations commissioned by Roche Pte Ltd.

The 2015 ACTION study[1] found that more than seventy five percent of patients diagnosed with cancer in Southeast Asia face financial catastrophe or death within one year of diagnosis. This report identifies innovative cancer treatment funding models from across the region that are making care more affordable and accessible, mitigating the risk of ruinous outcomes for cancer patients in Asia.

Two hundred and eight funding mechanisms were collated from the following eight Asian countries – China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China (Hong Kong SAR).

Of these two hundred and eight mechanisms, around twenty percent were deemed ‘innovative’ – enhancing existing arrangements, or adopting new approaches to funding – and separated into four distinct groups based on singular or multiparty and by level of innovation.

Dr Chang Liu, Managing Director of Singapore, Mainland China and Hong Kong, ACCESS Health International, said, “This report addresses one of the biggest challenges that impacts people’s health across Asia — the gaps that exist in the funding, access and coverage of cancer services. This study brings together some of the most compelling examples of good practice and innovative approaches to funding cancer services. We hope some of these approaches can be adopted and spread to more places, to fill gaps, enable improvements in care, and benefit more people in the region.”

The report showcases eleven country-specific case studies based on local needs. These range from government savings plans, innovative insurance plans, pharmaceutical access programs, and development impact bonds.

It is clear from the report that partnerships are key to closing funding gaps. Of the forty innovative models identified, seventy percent were driven by partnerships. The necessity for partnerships stems from the complexity of funding and service gaps, which cannot be resolved by any one party working alone.

“For improvement to take place [to expand access to cancer services], we need to change the conversation between pharma, device manufacturers, hospitals, and insurers to bring creative solutions to the patients,” said Mr. Steven Conway, Regional Head of Health at Allianz Asia Pacific.

Recognizing that cancer is the greatest burden to Asian health systems, the report sets out recommendations for innovative approaches that can be tailored to the level of development of universal health coverage and the role for each stakeholder group. Communities, governments, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector all have a role to play in addressing the funding gap.


[1] The ACTION Study Group. “Catastrophic health expenditure and 12-month mortality associated with cancer in Southeast Asia: results from a longitudinal study   in eight countries.” BMC Medicine (2015) 13:190. DOI   10.1186/s12916-015-0433-1.