PETALING JAYA: Breast cancer groups welcome the welfare fund for breast cancer patients that was set up to help ease the financial burden of patients in need.
The Targeted Therapy Welfare Fund launched by Roche Malaysia under its Roche Cares programme and Beacon Hospital aimed at reducing the financial burden of HER2-positive breast cancer patients.
Under the programme, patients only pay RM2,500 per cycle for the drug under the scheme while the rest would be subsidised by Roche Malaysia and Beacon Hospital.
HER2-positive patients have a gene mutation which promotes the growth of cancer cells by making an excess of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) protein.
The welfare fund is available to Malaysian patients nationwide coming from low-income groups, those with insufficient insurance coverage or patients who have exhausted their finances.
Patients can apply through Beacon Hospital corporate social responsibility (CSR) office and go through an assessment which will take between three and five days before getting treatment at Beacon Hospital here.
Breast Cancer Welfare Association Malaysia president Ranjit Kaur said the fund provides women with early breast cancer a better chance of saving their lives as well as reduce their suffering and cost.
“Women especially those in the lower-income group would sometimes opt not to go for treatment as they want to save money for their children’s education,” she said.
Ranjit added that the fund makes innovative treatment more affordable with the co-payment scheme and reduces the burden of treatment for the disease.
The Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report 2011 showed that female breast cancer accounted for 32.1% of all cancers among females in Malaysia.
The Healthcare Performance Measurement and Reporting System also noted that 50% of breast cancer patients in Malaysia could have been saved if they had access to the right treatment at the right time.
Pink Ribbon Wellness (L) Foundation honorary chief executive officer Yong Lee Lee urged more private organisations to set up similar welfare funds to help patients.
“Other private hospitals and pharmaceutical companies should follow this co-payment model that enables cancer patients to gain access to treatments that can save their lives and provide better survival outcomes,” she said.
Society for Cancer Advocacy and Awareness Kuching president Sew Boon Lui called on private organisations to set-up such a fund in Sabah and Sarawak.
Most often, she said, both states lack infrastructure including oncologists, and travelling to the peninsula for cancer patients from low-income groups was not viable.
“If the private sector can set up a similar welfare fund in our state, it will help save a lot of patients’ lives,” she added.