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Mar 21, 2019

Malaysian cancer challenges in line with global trends

  • Cancer incidence and related healthcare costs continue to grow
  • Barriers remain in achieving widespread screening and optimum treatment outcomes
  • More Corporate Social Responsibility funds for cancer patients urged
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia – Year after year, the spectre of cancer remains on the front of our minds and in the sights of healthcare professionals and officials. The World Health Organization mentions cancer among the Top 10 threats to global health in 20191 with approximately 9.6 million people worldwide estimated to have died from cancer in 20182. Yet, evidence suggests that between 30% and 50% of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding risk factors, which include unhealthy eating habits2,3.
At Philips, we believe that investing in health is an investment in the future of the world, in people's happiness and productivity. As a healthtech company, our vision at Philips is of a health continuum, where the healthcare and consumer worlds integrate to put people at the heart of a holistic system that monitors them continuously and helps the right people to take action when needed. Through our innovations, we provide clinicians with better tools to help diagnose and manage the most effective delivery of care, besides also helping consumers eat healthier with our innovative kitchen appliances.

Mr Muhammad Ali Jaleel

Country Manager, Philips Malaysia

Recently, Philips Malaysia spoke to prominent oncologist Dato’ Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Abdul Wahid of Beacon Hospital on the latest cancer-related issues and challenges faced by Malaysians and the healthcare system on the whole. It’s important to take these cancer insights into consideration when you are healthy, too, because everyone can become a patient, caught in the cogs and gears of the medical world. Getting the right information at the right moment makes a difference, as the latest insights can have an impact on factors as diverse as personal lifestyle choices and policymaking.

“Early detection and screening is important when it comes to cancer cases but the challenge in Malaysia is what policy you should implement to ease the process of screening and detection. What’s more important is the positive steps you take to ensure patients go for screening. In Malaysia, health screenings are still done on a voluntary basis. No one encourages you or guides you on where or when to go or tells you what to do. Thus, there is poor uptake of early detection in the country,” said Dr Ibrahim.

He said in countries like Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, general practitioners play a complementary role to specialists in screening citizens. In Australia, GPs refer patients to specialists if required, and after making an assessment, the specialists then decide whether to return a patient to the GP for ongoing treatment or recommend a procedure4.

“The next challenge is limitation of resources. If you want to do a mammogram screening in Malaysia, you can’t just walk into any public hospital to do the test, and in the private sector you have to pay for it and not everybody can afford it,” Dr Ibrahim added.

Dr Ibrahim also lists the cost of cancer drugs as a challenge faced by Malaysia. He believes that the government should play an important role in negotiating drug prices. “In some countries like Australia, South Korea and India, the government steps in and negotiates. Countries like the United Kingdom also have bodies like the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which advises on the affordability rate for medicines,” he said.


Nevertheless, Dr Ibrahim notes that private hospitals such as the Beacon Hospital has Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for cancer patients who are unable to afford treatment and drugs. “At Beacon Hospital, we have our own CSR fund comprising donations that helps patients who can’t afford certain drugs, such as those that cost about RM9,000 per dose. With the help of our CSR fund, patients only have to pay RM2,500 for the same dose. Similarly, for chemotherapy, while it costs between RM4,000 to RM6,000 per session, we are able to offer patients a flat fee of RM500.” Dr Ibrahim believes it will be very helpful if there is a centralised fund, helping more patients access expensive drugs and treatments.

For this year, Dr Ibrahim predicts that cancer cases will definitely increase due to Malaysians’ lifestyle including our diet, smoking habit and many other factors. “On a positive note, patients’ treatment outcomes have seen a huge improvement across the industry as we now have better treatment equipment thanks to technology and drugs development. For example, back in 1990, the survival period for lung cancer patients is about 3 months, while today, Stage 4 lung cancer patients can survive for a minimum of 1-2 years. Some can even survive more than 5 years,” said Dr Ibrahim.

As cancer incidence and related healthcare costs continue to grow, there is a big need to diagnose and treat patients in efficient settings with a focus on the best care. Philips helps in making this possible with tools and services for accurate first-time-right decision-making imaging and fast supporting right decision-making tools to enable targeted, patient-specific therapy.

Philips is committed in improving people's health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions.




4 Sunil K Dixit & Murali Sambasivan, PhD, A review of the Australian healthcare system: A policy perspective, SAGE Open Medicine, Volume 6: 1–14

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people's health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips generated 2018 sales of EUR 18.1 billion and employs approximately 78,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at

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Sheo Rai

Sheo S. Rai

Senior Manager
Brand and Communications
Philips ASEAN Pacific

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