Speech by Yang Amat Berhormat Tuan Chow Kon Yeow, Penang Chief Minister
at the Launch of Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital and Roche Malaysia Cares Programme
Thursday, 28 March 2019
Mr. Dean Liu
Chairman, Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital
Ms. Joan Lim–Choong
Chief Executive Officer, Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital
Mr. Vinod Narayan
Business Unit Director, Roche Malaysia
Dr. Ho Kean Fatt
Clinical Director, Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
Firstly, allow me to take this opportunity to thank Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital and Roche Malaysia for inviting me to launch the Mount Miriam Roche Cares Programme. I would like to congratulate both organisations for embarking on this unique corporate responsibility programme that benefits needy cancer patients. I am pleased to note that this progamme enables breast cancer patients from low income groups to gain access to innovative treatments at an affordable price. The Healthcare Performance Measurement and Reporting System report stated that 50% of breast cancer patients in Malaysia could have been saved if they had the right treatment at the right time.
The Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report 2011 showed that female breast cancer accounted for 32.1% of all cancers among females in Malaysia. The registry also listed Penang as the 3rd highest incidence recorded for new cancer cases every year with 11 out of 100 Penangites testing positive. Breast cancer recorded the highest incidence.
Prevention, early screening, testing and treatment are most important to ensure cancer patients have a higher chance of survival and even cure. Programmes such as Mount Miriam and Roche Cares can help to improve on cancer survival rates in the state and country.
This programme, moreover, fully meets the Penang state government’s initiative to harness the 4P model of public, private, professional, and people partnership to carry out projects with minimal use of public funds.
We had to implement this model as the Federal Government has categorized Penang as a developed state. At the 2019 Federal Budget announcement, Penang did not receive a huge allocation of federal funds. We understand the current financial situation of the country as the Federal Government had asked for three years to improve on our national financial position. We hope our innovative 4P model will enable our state to develop more effectively despite the challenges facing us.
I welcome private financial partnerships such as this initiative by Mount Miriam and Roche Malaysia which will enable the Penang state government to effectively allocate our resources to meet the healthcare needs of the people. This will also ease the congestion at our public hospitals as those who are eligible can now apply for funds through this programme.
It is not very often we hear about non-public hospitals serving the community without taking any profit. I am very proud to have in Penang, Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital which has served the community for over 40 years as a not-for-profit hospital. In addition to not taking profits, Mount Miriam had also gone the extra mile to establish the Needy Cancer Patient Fund since 2006. I would like to urge private corporations in Penang to contribute to this fund. It will help cancer patients get new innovative treatments that are not available in public hospitals or if they have been turned away from other private hospitals due to financial difficulties.
Since the programme only targets 20 patients for now, I hope with additional funds, this can be increased to cater to more cancer patients. Such financial assistance can reduce the patients’ and their families’ mental stress while undergoing treatment. I was also informed that as of today, there is already one patient who has been enrolled for this programme. Congratulations to both Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital and Roche Malaysia for achieving this.
This fund, which I understand is a co-pay mechanism under Mount Miriam and Roche Corporate Responsibility Programme, will see both organisations subsidizing the cost of Trastuzumab for the treatment of HER2 positive breast cancer at a much lower price. This will definitely benefit a lot of women who urgently need this treatment.
The federal government has also launched two national health insurance schemes – Skim Perlindungan Nasional B40 (MySalam) and Skim Perlindungan Kesihatan (PeKa). MySalam aims to provide insurance for the B40 household income group in the event they develop 36 critical illnesses while PeKa is screening for a projected 800,000 of B40 Malaysians aged 50 years and above for non-communicable diseases. This demonstrates that the Government at the federal and state levels are continuously looking into the needs of the rakyat and providing solutions for a better quality of life.
I look forward to a more effective public-private partnership especially in identifying innovative funding solutions and schemes. The health sector requires the synergy of the public, private, professional and people to come together to make a more meaningful contribution in healthcare delivery. I hope the partnership between Mount Miriam and Roche Malaysia will serve as an exemplary corporate responsibility initiative for other pharmaceutical companies and healthcare organisations to follow suit.
With that, I now officially launch the Mount Miriam Roche Cares Programme for HER2-positive breast cancer patients.