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Saeima members: healthcare budget’s increase should be used to help cancer patients

Romualds Ražuks/flickr.com/Saeima.
The oncology field in Latvia is going through revival now. A green corridor system has been adopted, and cancer patients will soon have access to new and innovative state-financed cancer treatment drugs. Nevertheless, there are still many problems that need resolving, says chairman of Saeima’s Public Health Sub-Committee Romualds Ražuks.

On Tuesday, 30 January, responsible officials discussed the situation with accessibility of innovative drugs for cancer treatment, as noted by Saeima’s press-service.

«In a time when patients in Lithuania and Estonia have access to 15 innovative drugs, patients in Latvia have access to only two. This situation is unacceptable. 2018 is a turning point when we speak of a completely new approach – both doctors and representatives of patient organizations,» said Ražuks.

Increase of funding for healthcare this year will help the state finance multiple new and innovative drugs. Prostate, breast and neuro-endocrine cancer treatment drugs are already added to the list of state compensated drugs list. Addition of five more types of drugs is in process, representatives of National Health Service told Saeima members.

Five million euros have been allocated to ensure provision of new medicines. The number of patients that will have access to new drugs, according to officials, is unrealistically low, as noted by representatives of oncology and patient organizations. They added that treatment using new drugs is required for a much larger number of people than estimated.

«This will be a major challenge for healthcare planners – to ensure equal attitude and prevent formation of quotas. This will make sure a person is not denied assistance because he was a hundred and first, whereas state funding is planned for one hundred people,» said the head of the sub-committee.

Representatives of patient organizations are against excessive bureaucracy and delays with green course approval, because timely access to drugs is a matter of life and death.

«Even if no funding is allocated now, Latvian policy-makers have to able to make one step further and consider introducing personalized medical treatment approach, making the process more efficient. Patients, relatives, and society in general have to prove with word and action that Latvia’s oncology field is not behind the times,» said Ražuks.


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