KUALA LUMPUR: There are plans to expand cancer treatment centres nationwide to ensure that patients have equitable access to high-quality treatment and palliative care, says the Health Minister.
Dr Zaliha Mustafa said that currently, many patients have to seek treatment in Kuala Lumpur.
“It is due to the lack of treatment centres, particularly in the east coast and, in Sabah and Sarawak.
“If we look at it from a cost- effective point of view, it is (better) to build cancer treatment centres closer to the patients.
“We’re looking at it in the long term, going by zones, and will probably see if treatment centres are needed in the north, east, Sabah and Sarawak,” she added.
Dr Zaliha said the ministry recognised the need to enhance the capacity and capabilities of healthcare facilities in the country, particularly in the field of oncology, which includes investing in advanced technologies and training healthcare professionals.
“I must stress that addressing the complex challenges of cancer requires a collective effort.
“We need the active participation of healthcare professionals, civil society, the private sector and individuals themselves to create a comprehensive and coordinated response,” she said after launching the “Against All Odds – A Tribute to Cancer Survivors” programme at Gleneagles Hospital.
In her speech, Dr Zaliha noted that cancer is still a significant public health concern in Malaysia.
She said the ministry has developed the National Strategic Plan for Cancer Control Programme, which covered all aspects of cancer care ranging from prevention to palliative care.
She said the programme also identified specific objectives with corresponding targets and action plans that are essential for instituting a comprehensive cancer prevention and control programme for the country until 2025.
“Implementation of the outlined action plans is essential to enable Malaysia to achieve key targets such as downstaging of cancer at diagnosis, improving survival rates for certain cancers and reducing premature mortality due to cancer,” Dr Zaliha said.
Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur chief executive officer Hoo Ling Lee said fighting cancer requires a holistic approach and a strong support system.
It is a battle that cannot be won alone.
“The collective strength of the government, society and not-for-profit organisations are also essential in this battle.
“The prevalence of cancer continues to rise, posing a significant public health concern.
“Advancements in medical technology, improved treatments and early detection have significantly improved survival rates for various types of cancers,” she said.
Earlier in the event, cancer survivors shared their stories.
It was hoped that through hearing the stories of survivors, patients and carers will gain strength to continue treatment, Hoo added.
Also present at the event was IHH Healthcare Malaysia chief executive officer Jean-Francois Naa.
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