Recently, a report conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) revealed that Malaysia is the third most prepared country in Asia Pacific to battle cancer.
Each country was assessed according to their different responses to the cancer challenge in Asia-Pacific and the essential elements needed to improve their level of preparation against the deadly disease. Out of the ten countries included in the study titled, Cancer preparedness in Asia Pacific: Progress towards universal cancer control, Malaysia emerged among the top three, beating Japan and China in nearly every category.
The 10 countries included in the study were: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, and Vietnam.
Overall, Malaysia scored 80.3 out of 100, third only to South Korea, who scored 83.4 and Australia, who scored 92.4.
Aside from The EIU’s Index of Cancer Preparedness, the countries were assessed according to: Policy and Planning, Care Delivery, and Health System & Governance. Our nation outperformed the regional average score (66.5) but further progress was recommended for the Health Systems & Governance section to improve our overall ranking in cancer preparedness.
In the report, it was said that Malaysia was among the top three countries that “offer the best examples of cancer registries in the region.” Malaysia is recognised as an ASEAN country with a high-quality cancer plan (The National Strategic Plan for Cancer Control Programme), which has nine areas of focus. In fact, the report went as far as saying that the national plan would have the perfect score if it were not for the “lack of clarity regarding financial resources.”
While there is strong growth in government spending for health, there needs to be more allocated as the cancer burden is only likely to increase with the nation’s ageing population. Malaysia was also discovered to be lacking in health literacy as when cancer is detected, “patients may seek alternative treatment instead of conventional treatment due to misinformation around the disease, screening and treatment.”
At the start of 2020, it was reported by the Malaysia National Cancer Registry that the number of new cancer cases between the period of 2012-2016 greatly surpassed the number of cases recorded in the corresponding period of 2007-2011. Cancer was also declared as the leading cause of death in the world and Malaysia later in 2018.
While some of these figures indicate that we’re on the right track, more needs to be done to ensure our position against this deadly disease is strengthened.
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