Private hospitals were Monday urged to collaborate with the government to set up welfare funds to assist needy cancer patients.
In making the call, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said such cooperation could help lessen the financial burden of low-income cancer patients in seeking treatment, including targeted therapies.
"We (Health Ministry) are open to all forms of partnership, whether in clinical research or corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts which we definitely encourage.
"Ultimately, we want to give the best healthcare and lessen their burden, especially the lower-income group's and this is our aim," he told the media after launching the Targeted Therapy Welfare Fund For Breast Cancer Patents, here, Monday.
The fund was set up by Beacon Hospital as its CSR initiative in collaboration with biotechnology company, Roche Malaysia, to assist breast cancer patients gain access to innovative medical treatments at reasonable rates.
Under this CSR initiative, eligible patients will be given access to subsidised cancer treatment at M2,500 per targeted therapy session compared to the original rates at RM8,000 to RM10,000 per session.
Meanwhile, Dr Dzulkefly reminded the public to go for early cancer screening to raise the chances of recovering from the disease with the treatments available or be cancer-free.
He said most patients sought treatment when their cancer was at stage three or four, regarded as difficult stages to treat.
"Lack of awareness of the disease, the wait-and-see attitude, not undergoing early screening and the high cost of treatment are among the reasons why many breast cancer patients found out about their disease at a late stage," he added.