Cancer: It’s All About the Price Tag

dr-ernst-marais-chief-operating-officer-independent-clinical-oncology-network-iconDr Marais, CEO of the Independent Clinical Oncology Network (ICON), examines the high cost of cancer in South Africa and the financial impact on the patient and practitioner.

Affordable cancer care is a delicate and complex balancing act which impacts patient, practitioner and pockets.

The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics released a study on 07 June 2016 and it hit almost every headline as it revealed the high cost of cancer care, and how it is set to rise over the next four years.

It was a price tag tsunami with a global oncology bill of $US150 billion by 2020, an increase of around 10.5% per annum, and that was just for the medication.

 Inequality worsens the problem

The same report also highlighted that, while the cost of medication and care in South Africa may be cheaper than the USA on average, the economic demographics of the country make calculating the realities of affordability complex. As a country, the Gini Coefficient gives SA the dubious honour of second place as one of the most unequal in the world. There is a real need to provide people with affordable cancer care, but there has to be a balance between what patients receive in terms of treatment, and what is affordable to both patient and medical scheme. In addition to this doctors need to be paid appropriately for the service they provide.

Dr Ernst Marais, Chief Operating Officer of ICON, explains: “The Value Equation in health economics is that the value of healthcare equals outcomes over cost. In this equation, outcome is the proxy for the quality of the care. Quality is measured across three main areas: infrastructure, process and outcomes.


To ensure patients access to good infrastructure, ICON have stringent accreditation programmes in place with a strict evaluation process to ensure that all treatment centres offer the same high-level of quality care.  For example, all ICON accredited radiotherapy units, subscribe to the same self-accreditation and inspection process, assuring a set standard for access to high quality technology and service delivery.


The process element focuses on the care provided to the patient – how they are treated, what methodology is employed and how supportive care is provided. ICON is contracted with 128 oncologists across South Africa which is about80% of the private oncologists countrywide. This network contributes towards the clinical and supportive protocols which clearly define process. These protocols are stratified by treatment intent and are evidence-based and so ensure the right patient receives the right treatment, at the right time and in the right place.

Read the rest of this article on Health-e



About LFCT

This is a blog about CHILDHOOD CANCER and CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS Little Fighters Cancer Trust is a non-profit organisation that offers support and aid to Children with Cancer and their families. When a child is diagnosed with cancer it affects the whole family. One of the parents, usually the mother, must give up their job to care for the child and this creates financial problems for the family. In South Africa especially the majority of these families are not well-to-do; many of them are rural. A diagnosis of cancer can wipe out any family’s finances, let alone a poor family. The costs of special medications, special diets, hospital stays, transport to and from the hospital or clinic and accommodation and food costs for the mother who spends most of the time at her child’s bedside are astronomical. These are the people and problems that fall through the cracks, and these are the people that Little Fighters Cancer Trust has pledged to help in any way possible. LFCT takes a holistic approach to assisting the Children with Cancer and their Families, with the main aim to be the preservation of individual dignity and pride. Little Fighters Cancer Trust also focuses on promotion and advocacy of National Childhood Cancer Awareness in an effort to increase awareness of Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer. This would result in earlier diagnosis, giving the Child with Cancer more of a chance at Treatment and Survival. See "About" for more Background info

Posted on 11 November, 2016, in Articles, Blog and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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