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Gov`t to Manage Cancer Patients

Posted October. 02, 2002 22:45,   


A trial project to provide medical service at homes of cancer patients in their terminal stage will be implemented starting from early next year.

Members from low-income families over 40 will also be provided free of charge with medical tests to detect liver cancer and colon cancer every two years from next year and from 2004 respectively.

A bill stating that the country provides comprehensive cancer management including study, examination and treatment was approved yesterday at the cabinet meeting.

The Health Ministry announced that it will implement the cancer management project starting from the first half of next year if the bill passes the National Assembly this year.

The cancer management project is designed to ease the burden of cancer patients in their terminal stage and their families. These cancer patients have so far to see a doctor on a regular basis only to reduce pain despite the incurability of their disease. Under the project, the medical fees for them will be set below the level of general medical fees. So far, medical fees spent for 1 to 3 months before the death of cancer patients stand for 58.3% of the total medical fees for one year, adding up to the financial burden on cancer patients and their families.

The Health Ministry also decided to apply medical insurance to 4 painkillers for cancer patients, which were approved by the Korea Food and Drug Administration in July.

In the meantime 1.14 million people from low-income families, who pay a small amount of medical insurance premium, can get free liver and colon cancer tests every two years from the age of 40. Currently 990,000 people receive free medical tests to detect cervical cancer, stomach cancer and breast cancer.

The Health Ministry decided to work out a comprehensive measures to manage cancer patients and set up a `national cancer management committee`.

About 59,000 people died of cancer last year, a 1.5 times increase from 1990. The economic loss cause by deaths from cancer is estimated at 19 trillion won, 3.9% of the GDP.

Sang-Keun Song songmoon@donga.com