Forum: MediShield Life changes will add to support provided by Singapore Cancer Society

The Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) welcomes the recent announcement of the changes to the eligibility of cancer drugs for claims under MediShield Life as well as increased financial support for cancer patients (MediShield Life changes aim to tackle rising amount S'pore spends on cancer drugs, Aug 18).

SCS has been advocating for main drugs to be included in the Health Sciences Authority's list of approved drugs and for leveraging more government funding to improve accessibility to treatment. With increased use, costs will drop.

By partnering key players in the pharmaceutical industry, SCS has been able to give patients access to critical medicine through our Patient Access Programme. We tie up with various pharmaceutical companies to help patients defray the costs of treatment. Successful applicants receive subsidies for the approved drugs or treatments of up to $6,000 per cycle/month.

SCS provides a range of assistance schemes, such as the Cancer Treatment Fund, Cancer Care Fund and Welfare Aid Fund, to alleviate the financial burden of treatment costs for those from low- and middle-income families.

The Cancer Treatment Fund provides subsidies to patients in financial difficulties. Since its inception in 2005, more than $18.7 million in aid has been disbursed, helping more than 5,500 patients. We will review this programme given the recent changes.

The Cancer Care Fund is a one-time financial assistance scheme to alleviate the financial burden of newly diagnosed cancer patients from low- or middle-income families within the first six months of diagnosis. Since its inception in 2015, more than $5.64 million in aid has been disbursed, assisting more than 6,200 people.

The Welfare Aid Fund provides temporary financial assistance and/or medical supplies to enhance the well-being of needy cancer patients. Since its inception in 2005, more than $15.12 million in aid has been disbursed, assisting more than 6,400 patients.

Beyond financial assistance, SCS, a self-funded voluntary welfare organisation, provides holistic care and support to

help patients, caregivers and family members cope in the cancer journey.

We offer patient care services to needy cancer patients through our hospice care and cancer rehabilitation support programmes.

Social workers, counsellors and therapists are at hand to help patients cope with the fear and emotions that may result from diagnosis and treatment by linking patients, caregivers and family members to pertinent information, financial resources and therapeutic groups.

There are also cancer support services for new patients, survivors and their family members that help to reduce the stigma around cancer, improve communication and also cope with the life-changing consequences of cancer.

SCS also provides cancer screening services and promotes cancer awareness and prevention through its public education and community outreach programmes.

SCS has been spearheading the fight against cancer for the past 57 years and will continue to adapt and provide innovative solutions to address the needs of the community. In collaboration with partners, SCS will intensify its cancer prevention efforts, and provide valuable cancer services and programmes and tangible support for the cancer community.

With everyone's support, no one needs to fight cancer alone as we work together for a cancer-free community.

Albert Ching

Chief Executive

Singapore Cancer Society

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