Can­cer care in Viet­nam re­ceives a boost

At the re­cent ASEAN-Australia Sum­mit, Australia’s lead­ing can­cer care provider Icon Group signed an agree­ment to col­lab­o­rate with two of Viet­nam’s lead­ing health­care providers. The MoU’s aim is to im­prove can­cer con­trol mea­sures in Viet­nam and strength­eni

BioSpectrum (Asia) - - Bio Content - Aish­warya Venkatesh aish­warya.venkatesh@mmac­

With a pop­u­la­tion of 90 mil­lion Viet­nam is one of the most pop­u­lous, de­vel­op­ing coun­try in Asia. The Viet­namese govern­ment cur­rently in­vests just 0.9 per cent of its GDP on health­care and the coun­try’s health sys­tems are woe­fully un­der­staffed and over­bur­dened. Viet­nam has alarm­ing can­cer rates with early 1,50,000 peo­ple di­ag­nosed with the deadly dis­ease each year. Life­style changes, tobacco use, ex­po­sure to oc­cu­pa­tional car­cino­gens, al­co­hol are some of the ma­jor rea­sons that are con­tribut­ing to rise in in­ci­dences of can­cer cases in the coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to WHO, an es­ti­mated 68,000 can­cer cases were re­ported in Viet­nam in 2000, and now the num­ber of new di­ag­noses is ex­pected to touch 190,000 by 2020. Ex­perts ex­pect a 70 per cent in­crease in can­cer cases over the next two decades and with­out ad­e­quate on­col­ogy treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties can­cer will be a huge dis­ease bur­den for the coun­try. Can­cer con­trol mea­sures in Viet­nam have to deal with nu­mer­ous chal­lenges such as lack of ac­cu­rate sta­tis­ti­cal data, short­age of re­sources and skilled doc­tors, lack of data on anti-tobacco pro­gramme and limited knowl­edge of gen­eral prac­ti­tion­ers and pub­lic about can­cer. So far, there is no com­pre­hen­sive pro­gramme for screening and early de­tec­tion of com­mon can­cers that cover na­tion­wide. Most pa­tients come in with last stage of can­cer and can­not af­ford the costly treat­ments.

The spi­ral­ing cases and lack of ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures to com­bat them have prompted the ur­gent need for qual­ity can­cer treat­ment in Viet­nam. The govern­ment has re­al­ized the need and is also step­ping up ef­forts to beef up can­cer con­trol mea­sures. The Can­cer Con­trol Net­work (2011–2020), was es­tab­lished by the Min­istry of Health to raise can­cer aware­ness among the peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, es­tab­lish screening and early de­tec­tion of pro­ce­dures, im­prove the knowl­edge of health­care staff, and strengthen can­cer sur­veil­lance and reg­istries. The Na­tional Can­cer Con­trol Plan (NCCP) was started in 2008 to pro­vide ef­fec­tive di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment. NCCP aims to en­hance the can­cer work­force and in­fra­struc­ture with im­prove­ments in the quan­tity and qual­ity of med­i­cal staff in can­cer con­trol as well as can­cer treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties.

As per the WHO sta­tis­tics, there are, an av­er­age of 7 to 8 health­care work­ers and 25 hos­pi­tal beds for ev­ery 10,000 Viet­namese cit­i­zens. A short­age of qualified med­i­cal staff is com­mon in many hos­pi­tals. Doc­tors and nurses work un­der stress­ful con­di­tions and wages

are rel­a­tively low. Viet­nam’s govern­ment has made plans for the in­ter­ven­tion to en­hance the health­care work­force by 2020.These plans in­clude strength­en­ing reg­u­la­tory prac­tices, in­creased au­ton­omy for pub­lic hos­pi­tals and in­cen­tives for the pri­vate sec­tor.

“Viet­nam’s health­care sys­tem is be­ing chal­lenged to make health ser­vices eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and meet the grow­ing needs for chronic ill­ness man­age­ment,” said Stu­art Giles, Co-Founder, Icon Group Chair­man. “Most hos­pi­tals in the coun­try are out­dated and face chronic over­crowd­ing. Hos­pi­tals in ma­jor cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi of­ten do not have the ca­pac­ity to serve both lo­cal and pro­vin­cial pa­tients. Much of the ex­ist­ing med­i­cal equip­ment in pub­lic hos­pi­tals in Viet­nam are ob­so­lete and need re­place­ment. Many hos­pi­tals lack suf­fi­cient equip­ment for surgery and in­ten­sive care units.”

Icon Group, Australia’s lead­ing can­cer care provider, inked a MoU with two of Viet­nam’s lead­ing health­care providers – The Na­tional Can­cer Hos­pi­tal in Hanoi (the K Hos­pi­tal) and the Mil­i­tary 175 Hos­pi­tal in Ho Chi Minh City. Through this, Icon hopes to trans­form can­cer care sys­tems in Viet­nam, de­velop large scale can­cer care in­fra­struc­ture, im­ple­ment an in­ter­na­tional stan­dard in med­i­cal ex­cel­lence across hos­pi­tal man­age­ment, and lever­age in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies to de­liver re­mote care where it is needed.

Viet­namese pub­lic hos­pi­tals rely largely on a state bud­get to up­grade their fa­cil­i­ties, equip­ment, and ser­vices. The to­tal bud­get for the health sec­tor has in­creased, but is still too low to meet the de­mands. Giles fur­ther said, “The to­tal bud­get for the health sec­tor has in­creased – spend­ing on pri­vate health­care grew 241 per cent over the past decade. And health­care spend­ing now ac­counts for 7.2 per cent of Viet­nam’s GDP – the high­est in the re­gion. But the Viet­namese health­care sys­tem can­not keep up with the de­mand for med­i­cal ser­vices.”

“Through these MoU’s we aim to strengthen these health­care providers’ abil­ity to de­liver world class can­cer care and treat­ments in Viet­nam by col­lab­o­rat­ing with Icon Group. These projects will see sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment in the re­gion, with the funds ded­i­cated to im­prov­ing the qual­ity of can­cer care in Viet­nam. Icon Group will work closely with its part­ners, lever­ag­ing its unique strengths in can­cer care, in­clud­ing clinical skills, re­sources and ser­vices, to help Viet­nam build an in­ter­na­tional can­cer care sys­tem and associated fa­cil­i­ties. Icon’s Aus­tralian and Sin­ga­porean co­hort of ex­perts will pro­vide in­put to help health providers meet this de­mand, while sup­port­ing them to build lo­cal ca­pac­ity for the fu­ture. This in­cludes in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment, im­ple­men­ta­tion of an in­ter­na­tional stan­dard in med­i­cal ex­cel­lence across hos­pi­tal man­age­ment, and lever­ag­ing in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies to de­liver re­mote care. Icon’s first step is to build off Icon SOC’s cur­rent com­mit­ment to can­cer care in Viet­nam, via our doc­tor-led satel­lite clin­ics, and ex­tend this into de­liv­er­ing on-site can­cer treat­ment for the peo­ple of Viet­nam,” he added.

Beyond Singapore and Viet­nam, Icon has also es­tab­lished a pres­ence in China. Icon Group signed a Com­mis­sion­ing and Op­er­a­tional Man­age­ment Ser­vice Agree­ment for can­cer cen­ters to be built with Guangzhou Uni­ver­sity of Tra­di­tional Medicine (GUOTM) Jin Sha Zhou Hos­pi­tal and Chengde Chong Yuan In­vest­ment Group Co in Jan­uary 2017. The agree­ment will see Icon Group manag­ing de­sign, con­struc­tion and com­mis­sion­ing of all three ra­di­a­tion on­col­ogy cen­ters, while de­liv­er­ing clinical op­er­a­tional man­age­ment. This will in­cludes train­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise and qual­ity as­sur­ance to en­sure the res­i­dents of Guangzhou, Chengde and sur­round­ing ar­eas re­ceive world-class can­cer care. Icon SOC is also in­volved in ac­tive early stage projects in the Philip­pines and In­done­sia.

“By these col­lab­o­ra­tions we aim to iden­tify the chal­lenges, needs and ap­proach to im­ple­ment in­ter­na­tional stan­dards for can­cer care and treat­ment. This in turn will en­hance the ca­pac­ity and ef­fec­tive­ness of treat­ment, re­duc­ing the cost of treat­ment via the in­put of re­mote tech­nolo­gies and ex­per­tise, while still en­sur­ing qual­ity of the care pro­vided. Lo­cal and overseas train­ing pro­grammes for doc­tors, nurses and phar­ma­cists, and the pro­vi­sion of ser­vice sup­port, will help bridge the gap be­tween de­mand and re­source avail­abil­ity, while build­ing lo­cal ca­pac­ity mov­ing for­ward,” con­cluded Giles.

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