'Worldwide spending on cancer equivalent to Hong Kong's GDP'

'Worldwide spending on cancer equivalent to Hong Kong's GDP'

Cancer is responsible for 5–7 per cent of healthcare costs in high-income countries and reached approximately USD 290 billion per year in 2010.

Worldwide spending on cancer has reached levels equivalent to the GDP of Hong Kong which is the 35th largest economy in the world, a new report to be presented at a global health summit in Qatar later this month has claimed.

The report has said that it is estimated that from 2008 to 2030, cancer incidence will rise by 65 per cent in high-income countries, 80 per cent in middle-income countries, and 100 per cent in the world’s poorest countries. These statistics which are highlighted in a new report will be presented at the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) in Qatar from February 17-18. Hong Kong’s GDP was reportedly 274 billion USD in 2013. “The WISH report will highlight that health economies worldwide are expecting increases of 16–32 per cent in new cancer diagnoses over the next 10 years and projections from the US, United Kingdom and Australia suggest that cancer costs in these countries could increase by as much as 42–66 per cent above current levels by 2025,” a WISH statement said.

To mark World Cancer Day on February 4, the authors of the report are releasing early findings to help drive awareness of the global cancer burden, shining a light on the true scale of the problem and calling on governments, policymakers and healthcare organisations to tackle the rising cost of the disease, the statement said. “Cancer is responsible for 5–7 per cent of healthcare costs in high-income countries and reached approximately USD 290 billion per year in 2010 while it is also the second largest contributor to the non-communicable disease burden,” the other key finding of the report said.

With the continual development of new treatments and high-profile debates raging about how patients are selected for expensive drugs, the report will also present evidence that in many cases, cancer could be treated very differently. It will highlight that there are too many instances of over-treatment and needless use of expensive technology while it will highlight innovative projects from around the world that have driven efficiencies and improved treatments for patients, the statement said. 

WISH is an initiative of Qatar Foundation (QF) for education, science and community development and highlights QF’s mission to inspire and promote healthcare development and reform through a global network of high-level policymakers, academicians and industry leaders. Professor Robert J S Thomas, the chair of ‘Delivering Affordable Cancer Care’ of WISH Forum, said that the aim is to develop a plan to encourage governments, policymakers and large healthcare organisations to take up and recognise the problem of affordability. “It is a key issue for patients at all levels and a key issue for governments. Everyone is worried about the high cost of cancer care. What we want is a plan which will help patients in the long term,” he said.

Commenting on the significance of World Cancer Day, Professor Lord Darzi of Denham, executive chair of WISH and director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College of London, said that the challenge of cancer is daunting and it will intensify. “World Cancer Day provides a platform for people worldwide to reflect on the impact that the disease has on millions of lives globally. As populations age, more people are developing cancer, they are surviving longer with it and treatment costs are soaring.