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The George Institute for Global Health launches Phase II of cancer study for ASEAN Foundation

The George Institute for Global Health today launched Phase II of the ACTION (ASEAN costs in oncology) Study on the economic and social impact of cancer in eight ASEAN member states.

Dr Makarim Wibisono, Executive Director of the ASEAN Foundation, welcomed the start of the program, which follows from the ASEAN Cancer Stakeholders Forum co-organised by the ASEAN Foundation, George Institute and Roche in Singapore in July 2011.

“The ASEAN Foundation was established to bring about shared prosperity and a sustainable future to all ASEAN member countries,” Dr Wibisono said.

“This groundbreaking economic study comes at a time when cancer and other non-communicable diseases are gaining more attention from the global health community and in the wake of a U.N. General Assembly High-level Meeting in September 2011,” he said.

The prospective study involves approximately 10,000 patients who are admitted or receiving treatment for cancer at all stages in eight ASEAN countries - Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

“The ASEAN Foundation recognises the impact of cancer on the economic and social health and wellbeing on households, communities and countries. We are pleased The George Institute for Global Health is acting now to implement Phase II of the ACTION Study,” Dr Wibisono said.

There were more than 700,000 new cancer cases in the ASEAN member countries in 2008 and 500,000 deaths from cancer in the same year. Cancer treatment is estimated to receive less than 0.5 per cent of public health funding.

Phase II of the ACTION Study is designed to assess the economic impact of cancer on households; variation in the management and costs of hospital and non-hospital treatment for cancer; and the social and quality of life impact of cancer on patients at all stages.

The economic burden of cancer includes expenditures on cancer prevention, screening and treatment services; the time and effort spent by patients and their families undergoing cancer treatment; and lost productivity due to cancer-related disability and premature deaths.

“Cancer’s human toll, in terms of suffering and death, is tragic and largely preventable,” Professor of Biostatistics at The George Institute for Global Health, Mark Woodward said.

“We now know that without immediate intervention, the burden of cancer will grow enormously in the ASEAN region, with demands on health care systems and economic costs that are more than these emerging economies can bear,” Professor Woodward said.

To mark the launch of Phase II of the ACTION Study, 120 investigators, physicians and nurses from across ASEAN will participate in two days of field training, which will be followed by patient recruitment in each of the participating ASEAN countries.

Once patients are recruited in each country, they will be followed throughout the first year after their cancer diagnosis and a suite of questionnaires and a cost diary is given to each patient to determine the outcome measures of incidence of financial catastrophe, poverty induced illness, quality of life, psychological distress, hospital costs, non-hospitals healthcare costs, out of pocket costs, indirect costs, economic hardship, disease status and survival status.

“The ASEAN Foundation hopes that the study will assist ASEAN governments to make informed choices on cancer control policies and resource allocations. To confront the cancer crisis, we do not only need real-time data but also a coordinated regional response from ASEAN governments and that is why we will strive to ensure that cancer tops the agenda of ASEAN Meeting on Health in 2012,” concluded Dr Wibisono.

About the ASEAN Foundation

The ASEAN Foundation was established by the ASEAN Leaders in December 1997 during ASEAN’s 30th Anniversary Commemorative Summit to help bring about shared prosperity and a sustainable future to all 10 ASEAN Member Countries, namely, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The two-fold objectives of the ASEAN Foundation as reflected in its Memorandum of Understanding are as follows:

  • It shall promote greater awareness of ASEAN, and greater interaction among the peoples of ASEAN as well as their wider participation in ASEAN’s activities inter alia through human resources development that will enable them to realize their full potential and capacity to contribute to progress of ASEAN Member States as productive and responsible members of the society; and
  • It shall also endeavour to contribute to the evolution of a development cooperation strategy that promotes mutual assistance, equitable economic development, and the alleviation of poverty