Kazakhstan following five-year $95 million plan to improve cancer survival rate

ASTANA – Kazakhstan is using a $95 million, five-year plan to improve its cancer survival rate.

“(Kazakhstan’s 50 percent survival rate) is not a very high rate, which is approximately 70 to 80 percent in OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries,” Kazakh National Academy of Sciences Scholar Dilyara Khaidarova said at a recent academic conference in the capital.

The academic emphasised the urgency of quicker diagnosis.

“Our oncologists should provide assistance on the ground. Many complaints revolve around patients not being appropriately processed or going to the wrong place so that, once a diagnosis is actually made, the cancer has progressed. Sometimes, it may take up to one and a half months to diagnose a person,” the academic said.

A 35 billion tenge (US$95.03 million) five-year plan for the development of cancer treatment in all regions has been adopted by the government.

By 2022, new linear particle accelerators will be installed in all regions’ laboratories. Drug therapy expenditure will increase by over four billion tenge (US$10.86 million). Oncologists will be financially incentivised to identify cancer at its early stages, and a new cancer screening programme will screen for cervical, breast and colorectal cancer.

Innovative treatment methods will also be introduced in Astana’s new cancer treatment centre.

“Diagnostics work is mostly positron emission tomography (PET) diagnostics and molecular diagnostics research. These are being carried out today but, by the time of the opening of the new center, newer diagnostic methods may appear,” she said.

Kazakh patients may no longer need to go abroad for cancer treatment in the near future.

“By 2021, when construction is complete, I believe that proton therapy will become routine,” she said. “Around the world, there are 57 such centres, and Russia has already opened two. At our centre, we seek to accept over 1,600 patients with rare diseases, so they are to receive highly specialised care, especially children,” said Khaidarova.

“Palliative care is a key problem. We have formed two mobile teams for pain relief and assistance in Almaty, and they are seeing success. Mobile teams which provide palliative care at home are now launching in Astana and Semey. In Astana, the opening of hospices, by which hospitals are redeveloped into hospices, is also underway. The city is growing, so it is necessary to account for more beds,” she added.

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