Cancer Centers and Medication Costs getting in the way of Treatment in Developing Countries
First of all, Why are developing countries struggling with cancer treatment and medication?
Developing countries have been dealing with communicable diseases and now that progress is coming and the communicable diseases are declining the non-communicable diseases are becoming a new growing concern this raises a need for more hospitals that provide cancer treatment and medical drugs at an affordable price however the cancer treatment is not widely available in developing countries and the available treatment is usually insufficient and expensive to most people. according to (Sewram,2019)the cancer medication pricing is a rising concern for developing countries yet only 5% of global resources for cancer are spent on developing countries even though they account for 80% of disability-adjusted years of life lost to cancer globally. This applies to Rwanda as part of low-income countries which have less than 4 cancer centers with expensive medical treatment. In a short answer, one can say that there is a massive disparity in the global resources for cancer in developing countries.
The African continent is expected to grow rapidly, with life expectancy increasing since the communicable disease challenge declines in the future the African continent will be densely populated. according to the global oncology journal the cancer cases are expected to grow to more than a 21million in 2030 and the low and middle-income countries are at risk of having more cases than any other places with almost two-thirds of cancer deaths and more than a half of cases currently from middle and low-income countries there is a need to strengthen the health care system to be able to handle this arising burden. Located in East Africa Rwanda is a landlocked country with a thousand hills it is also a low-income country with a population of about 12.1 million. progress is being made in Rwanda to achieve universal health coverage through different ways such as The community base health insurance that covers 90% of the health services provided by the public health. This has been creating an impact in the health sector of Rwanda since anyone can not suffer or die because they can not afford to go to the hospital for a long time this insurance scheme has been saving people’s lives.
How can we explain the expensive medical drugs of cancer if there is the community base health that covers 90% of treatment and medicine in Rwanda and butaro hospitals that provide chemotherapy and radiotherapy for free regardless of the patient’s ability to pay for the treatment? The Butaro Hospital in the northern Burera district of Rwanda which was inaugurated in July 2012 to offer preventive care, pathology-based diagnosis, staging, chemotherapy, referral for radiotherapy, follow-up, and palliative care was the only hospital that provided cancer treatment until recently in February 2020 where the Rwanda cancer center was established at the Rwanda Military Hospital in Kanombe as the first step in ultimately providing a full-service cancer center. Patients are now receiving chemotherapy for free at butaro hospital and now with the new Rwanda Cancer Center, the two hospitals complement each other whereby patients who need radiotherapy are referred to Rwanda Cancer Center and the Butaro hospital admits the patients who need chemotherapy the services are provided free charges regardless of the ability to pay for the fee(BBC News Gahuza, 2020). This reduces the concern of the cancer treatment service since the Rwanda Cancer Center can provide full cancer services within the country people will no longer have to travel to other countries seeking cancer treatment which also came with a lot of expenses to them and the economy of the country in general for those treatment funded by the government.
even though a new cancer center was built with full cancer services there is still a need to build more cancer centers in Rwanda due to the rising cancer cases in the developing countries this is a common issue that all countries are aware of and are trying to find a solution to however we could ask ourselves why are there not enough cancer centers and affordable cancer medicine in developing countries specifically in Rwanda knowing that cancer is arising concern?
community base health insurance only covers 90% of non-chemotherapy medical bills, the remaining 10% is still a major barrier for many patients who are diagnosed with cancer(Rubagumya et al., 2020)
There are several reasons why there is a shortage of cancer centers and cancer medical drugs are expensive in Rwanda and also why the community base health insurance does not cover chemotherapy bills and cancer medicine. it all lies in the operational cost of the cancer centers and cancer medication. We can ask ourselves why are cancer medication treatment expensive and why can’t community based health insurance cover them to reduce the financial burden? The reason for all this is that the pricing for the cancer drugs and equipment are higher than any other medicines and equipment and the reason why the pricing issue is more of a concern to the developing countries is that governments and individuals from developing countries struggle to pay for the products that are at several times the level of their per capita GDP. this shows how big of concern the affordability of healthcare is since some people are still struggling to pay even the non-chemotherapy health services which are already covered 90% who will be able to afford what is not even covered by the community base insurance they might not even make it to the first round of treatment. The right to Health care has been recognized as a basic human right Which means that people shouldn’t go through hardships to find what they have the right to. It is important to introduce pharmaceutical products and equipment that don’t bring inequalities and disparities all around the world.
we all deserve access to quality and affordable health services even the developing countries. with no inequities and disparities, the developing countries should take action as soon as possible to deal with the unavailability of cancer centers and medication.
Not too long ago it was the same thing for the HIV drugs where they said that it was not affordable to provide HIV/AIDS services but lately we have been seeing some changes the same thing can be done for cancer care through generic drug competition which can bring down the medical drugs price as it worked for HIV/AIDS.
The developing countries should encourage the use of cancer medicine with a view to enhancing competition.
The government must ensure that the application of rights for market exclusivity and patent law are not over compensating innovators and becoming barriers to access.
A game changing call to action action:
When cancer is detected at an early chance there is a high chance of survival and the early diagnosis coupled with appropriate treatment can reduce the cost of treatment. Rwanda has adopted a new technology that enhances the accessibility to diagnosis and screening of Cancer. We urge you to visit any nearest health facility for a checkup anytime you experience any cancer-related symptoms. Since it has been made accessible in three districts of Rwanda(Tasamba,2021).
You can also donate to the organizations such as the nongovernmental PIH organization which supports the finance of free chemotherapy and other services at Butaro cancer center of excellence.
- Cancer drug pricing gets in the way of treatment in developing countries. (2019). Retrieved 21 February 2019, from https://theconversation.com/cancer-drug-pricing-gets-in-the-way-of-treatment-in-developing-countries-111102
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- World health Organization (2021)Universal health coverage in Rwanda [Video]. https://youtu.be/GmQiA4J-XDw
- Rwanda TV (2020, february5) President KAGAME inaugurates Rwanda Cancer Centre at Rwanda Military Hospital [Video] https://youtu.be/w3XOZTqOGKo
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