AMCHAM organized ‘Enabling Innovations: Strengthening Cancer Care in India’ at Hotel Le Meridien, New Delhi on November 7th, which has been observed as National Cancer Awareness Day in India since 2014 to create public awareness about early detection, prevention, and treatment of cancer. Cancer is a significant healthcare challenge globally, and India is no exception, hence the program aimed to address the need for advancements and improvements in cancer care within India. Enabling innovations to strengthen cancer care, inclusive of early detection, availability and accessibility of affordable treatment, and palliative care, requires a multifaceted approach which would need a multi-stakeholder response, with public and private sector playing participatory roles based on their areas of expertise. There is a need to focus on early detection, treatment access, research, patient support, data management, public awareness, prevention, collaboration, and effective policies that can strengthen the entire healthcare delivery ecosystem for cancer care. By addressing these aspects, India can make significant strides in improving cancer care and reducing the burden of this disease on its population.
The program began with welcome remarks by Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM, followed by opening remarks by Mr. Rakesh Bamzai, Chairman – Pharmaceuticals Committee, AMCHAM, President of India, Emerging Asia & Access Markets, Viatris, CEO & MD, Mylan Laboratories Limited, India. Context setting was done by Ms. Neelima Dwivedi, Co-Chairperson – Pharmaceuticals Committee, AMCHAM Executive Director, Public Policy, Corporate Communications and Market Access, MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. The session included an address by Dr. Suman Arora, Senior Consultant (Health), NITI Aayog, Government of India, a special address by Mr. Santhosh Mathew, Country Lead, State Systems & Partnerships, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the keynote address by Ms. Genessa Giorgi, Health Attaché, U.S. Embassy, Regional Representative for South Asia, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Rakesh Bamzai gave concluding remarks.
Session 1: ‘Access Session – Effective Interventions for Equitable Access to High Quality Cancer Care and Identifying Access Barriers Across Patient Journey’ deliberated on how low health insurance coverage and high reliance on out-of-pocket payments further increase the financial toxicity associated with cancer treatment. The odds of impoverishment due to high out-of-pocket expenditure are six times higher for cancer treatment than that due to infectious diseases in India. In view of this, the panel discussed the importance of reducing socio-economic inequalities in access to cancer care by increasing the provision of quality, affordable, and accessible healthcare services. Dr. Ashwani Aggarwal, Director, Healthcare Management Consulting Practice, PWC moderated the session with expert speakers Dr. Sachin Gupte, Lead – State Operations, PATH, Ms. Urvashi Prasad, Director, NITI Aayog, Government of India, Dr. Raajiv Singhal, Founding Member, Managing Director & CEO, Marengo Asia Healthcare, Dr. K. Madan Gopal, Senior Advisor, NHSRC, Dr. Yash Paul Bhatia, Chairman & Managing Director, Astron Group and Ms. Shobha Mishra Ghosh, Director & Head, Government Affairs & Policy, India & South Asia, GE HealthCare
Session 2: ‘Exploring Innovative Financing Models for Improving Access to Quality Cancer Care’ focussed on essential and innovative financing models for which implementation requires crucial engagement with stakeholders, thorough feasibility studies and establishing clear accountability mechanisms. Additionally, regulatory frameworks may need to adapt to accommodate these novel approaches to healthcare financing. The goal is expanding financing pathways to enable patient access to best-in-class therapies in cancer care with a specific focus on exploring financing structures such as modern therapy corpuses and funding pools that bridge gaps in existing health benefit packages. Mr. Rakesh Kaul, Partner, Ernst & Young, India, moderated the panel with expert speakers Dr. Maulik Chokshi, Deputy Country Director (Technical), ACCESS Health International, Dr. Vibhav Garg, Director – Health Economics & Government Affairs, India HUB & ASEAN, Boston Scientific, Ms. Kachina Chawla, Division Chief for Health Systems Strengthening, USAID/India and Mr. L.M. Singh, Managing Director India, Global Head – Partnerships and Innovative Finance, Vital Strategies India.
Session 3: ‘Innovative Approaches to Increase Awareness Towards Early Detection’ focused on how healthcare organizations, governments, and advocacy groups can create engaging, accessible, and effective campaigns that motivate individuals to prioritize early detection and take proactive steps toward better health. Increasing awareness of early detection would be essential for improving health outcomes, particularly for conditions like cancer, where early diagnosis can significantly increase the chances of successful treatment, it is also cost effective from a health systems perspective. Removing barriers such as reticence, fear, and stigma associated with seeking healthcare is crucial for improving public health outcomes. Mr. Rakesh Bamzai, Chairman – Pharmaceuticals Committee, AMCHAM opened the session which featured a special address by Padmashri Dr. Ashok Kumar Vaid, DM (Medical Oncology), Chairman, Medical Oncology and Haematology, Medanta Cancer Institute, Medanta – The Medicity. The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Saritha Shamsunder, Prof Department of Obs & Gynae, Safdarjung Hospital with Mr. Sudhakar Mairpady, Director – Regulatory and Government Affairs, India South Asia, BD, Dr. Ravinder Mohan, Medical Director, Can Support – Patient Advocacy and Ms. Malti Sachdev, Sr. Managing Director, Varian Medical Systems.
Key Recommendations from the discussions and deliberations:
• Universal access to cancer care and financial protection
• Comprehensive cancer care approach
• Investing in prevention and early detection
• Support for cancer research and innovation
• Collaborative approach and enablers for change
• National focus and policy advocacy
• Enhancing efficiency and addressing critical gaps
• Preventable cancers and mass screening
• Quality of outcomes and virtual consultations
• R&D and drug trials
• Insurance coverage
• Four key focus areas: address primary care, create adaptive question engines, ensure observable treatment plans, and reduce the cost of cancer drugs
Additional recommendations for a more comprehensive set of policy recommendations based on the individual session-wise discussions:
Session 1: Effective Interventions for Equitable Access to High Quality Cancer Care and Identifying Access Barriers Across Patient Journey
• Affordability of cancer care
• Primary care and early detection
• Capacity building
Session 2: Exploring Innovative Financing Models for Improving Access to Quality Cancer Care
• Standardization and data homogenization
• Outcome-based payments
• Government ownership
Session 3: Innovative Approaches to Increase Awareness Towards Early Detection
• Sustainable expansion of cancer centers
• Preventable cancer risk factors
• Modifiable factors
• Government investment in R&D
• Scaling innovative models
• Public-private collaboration
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