Cancer patients face treatment delays due to Covid-19

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 09 Jul 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Cancer patients who have been impacted by hospital scheduling due to the Covid-19 pandemic are facing delays of up

to six months in treatment, according to National Cancer Society Malaysia president Dr Saunthari Somasundara.

This came about as these patients had avoided hospitals with Covid-19 while hospitals were more cautious about taking them in.

Such patients, she said, had thus “fallen through the cracks”.

“Those who have been diagnosed and registered with the hospitals have decreased access to that hospitals,” she said.

In Malaysia, most of the dedicated Covid-19 hospitals are also where the majority of patients get cancer treatment, hence, the impact would be quite great, she said.

She said there were attempts to divert the patients to private healthcare service with the government paying for it but many patients fell through the gaps.

“Now when things are relaxed, patients are going back to treatment schedules, but there is a backlog and there is a delay. You are looking at three to six months’ delay in terms of treatment,” she said.

She also raised a greater concern about another group comprising those who have not been diagnosed but who have symptoms and need to be diagnosed.

This was raised during a virtual briefing on a report on Cancer preparedness in Asia-Pacific: Progress towards Universal Cancer Control released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The EIU is a division of The Economist Group.

According to the report, Malaysia ranks third in cancer preparedness in Asia Pacific, behind Australia and South Korea. Malaysia got an overall score of 80.3 out of 100, compared to Australia (92.4) and South Korea (83.4).

Malaysia showed strong performances across policy, planning and care delivery domains, but further progress could be made in the health systems and governance category to enhance overall cancer preparedness, the report said.

As of 2017, cancer was the second leading cause of death in Malaysia.

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