The prevention, precision diagnostics and digitization are the key activities, in which the state invests efforts immediately, recommend participants in a public forum, organized by APOZ and ARPharM
The Association of Cancer Patients, European Coalition of Cancer Patients, The Association of Medical Students in Bulgaria - Sofia, The Association of Research Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Partners organized a public forum, dedicated to the National Cancer Control Plan. Patients participated in the event, medics, national and international health experts, diplomats, politicians, executive and industry representatives. The event put emphasis on the pillars of the adopted by the Council of Ministers 4 January 2023 r. plan to deal with oncological diseases - prevention, diagnostics, treatment and quality of life. All participants rallied around it, that accepting the fight against cancer is an achievement, but this is a serious drawback, that there is no serious activity on it.
"We lost a lot of time for the adoption of this plan. We are good at healing, but we are not good at tracking and early detection. Huge funds are being invested, but this process remains isolated from prevention, prevention and follow-up after active therapy. These are all activities, which can be connected into a whole and this is the path, to reduce the incidence of cancer, as currently cancers are 16% from everyone in our country", commented the Minister of Health Prof. Hristo Hinkov. He added, that the establishment of a National Oncology Council is pending, who will coordinate the activities, included in the National Cancer Control Plan.
To 2030 r. from 25% there will be more Europeans, who will be affected by the various forms of cancer, ie. cancer is in some sense an epidemic disease. Patient organizations know, that the success of all actions to implement the anti-cancer plans of the European countries largely depends on the politicians, who manage them. "Efforts depend on how much the member state itself will accept this as a serious problem and how well it will implement its anti-cancer plan", for his part, the president of the European Coalition of Cancer Patients, prof. Francesco De Lorenzo. To delay the deadlines for the implementation of the National Plan to fight cancer, as well as the fact that some of them are very far away, patient representatives warned during the forum. According to Gergana Bogdanova from the foundation “One in eight" it is necessary to plan specific actions, in the implementation of which patients must also be involved.
Prevention and early diagnosis are key activities to reduce the impact of cancer on various societal systems. Modern medicine can add 13 years of life for a patient, diagnosed with stage one or two breast cancer, but only 4 years per patient, diagnosed in stage three and four. Modern methods of diagnosis and treatment of cancer significantly prolong the life of patients and its quality, but good oncological care is not possible without good prevention, comments Deyan Denev from ARPharM. On the other hand, experts calculate, that 27 per cent of all cancer diseases in Bulgaria, are from breast cancer, for screening of which the state has allocated only 30 million. BGN. when necessary 277 million. for a period of five years. It is three times more cost-effective to introduce a breast cancer screening program. If cervical cancer screening is introduced, for example, mortality from this disease will decrease by 90%, health expert Slaveyko Jambazov estimates. The funds needed for such a screening amount to approx 60 million. BGN. for five years, but they will add 24 years of life with early diagnosis of at-risk patients. For colon cancer, the investment in screening can increase by over 80% patient survival.
On the initiative of the representative of the patient organizations in the NC of the NHIF, biomarker diagnostics will be included in the budget of the Treasury, the deputy minister of health prof. told the participants of the forum. Ilko Getov. He added, that funds will be provided for part of the biomarker diagnostics, technologies and laboratories will be explored, who will carry them out. Prof.. Ilko Getov also confirmed the government's three priorities in terms of reducing the effects of cancer - prevention, better treatment of Bulgarian citizens, ie. access to modern therapies and diagnostics, and digitization. On the territory of the country, it is necessary to build the so-called. multidisciplinary reference centers, which is laid down in the National Plan for Reconstruction and Development, added Deputy Minister Getov. The Plan also provides funds for mass screening, and next year the upgrading of the national health information system in the field of oncology will begin, added prof. Getov.
The creation of an "Oncology" module in the National Health Information System is pending. This module will need to provide information in a new way, and not just to register the disease itself. This was added by the Deputy Minister of e-Government, Valentin Mundrov. „Data collected is for patient purposes, including for earlier detection of certain diseases and for predicting where to direct resources. Oncology information, as one of the most important areas in healthcare, should be more specialized, and doctors should be involved in the development of this module", added the deputy minister.
For his part, Boris Kostadinov from "Information Service" AD commented, that a long-term patient care module is also being developed, which will be a fact next year, which aims to assist physicians in reporting and collecting the necessary information for prevention purposes, screening and subsequent analyses. One of the first functionalities, which the state system integrator will introduce next year at the earliest, is the registration of diseases for long-term monitoring, such as oncological ones, including various stages of treatment and disease monitoring. “Information and data are the best weapons of all, the point is to collect them, analyzed and accessible", added the physician Dr. Radoslav Mangaldzhiev. "We insist that in the process of digitization and development of the oncology database, the personal data of the patients should be protected, since I don't think so, that they are protected. At the moment, the express written consent of the patient is not obtained for the storage of our data in the NHIS", commented the chairman of the Association for the Development of Bulgarian Health Care, Boryana Boteva.
The participants in the public forum united to demand from the institutions more specifics in the planning and implementation of the follow-up actions in the implementation of the National Anti-Cancer Plan.
Photos, presentations, as well as highlights from all the speeches at the forum can be found on the event website: www.ecpc.oncobg.info
Watch the full forum recording: