Roche commitment to improving women’s cancer care

August 28, 2023 | 00:00
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Lennor Carrillo, general director of Roche Pharma Vietnam, and Dr. Qadeer Raza, general manager of Roche Vietnam (Diagnostics), spoke with VIR's Thanh Van about the latest report of women's cancer and reiterated their commitment to women’s cancer care with their combined strength of diagnostics and pharmaceuticals.
Roche commitment to improving women’s cancer care
Lennor Carrillo, general director of Roche Pharmaceuticals (left) and Qadeer Raza, general manager of Roche Vietnam (Diagnostics)(right)

What are the main takeaways from the latest report about women's cancer in Asia Pacific?

Dr. Raza: With an aim to accelerate the region’s effort and process towards WHO’s targets for breast cancer and the elimination of cervical cancer, an Economist Impact report entitled “Impact and Opportunity: The Case for Investing in Women’s Cancers in Asia Pacific” was launched at the 7th Southeast Asia Breast Cancer Conference on August 25th in Hue. Commissioned by the Asia-Pacific Women's Cancer Coalition and supported by Roche, the report presented to key stakeholders in the region challenges and crucial steps towards improving outcomes in women's cancer care.

The report delves deep into the burden of women's cancer, specifically breast and cervical cancer, in six countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The key messages from the report's findings can be summarized as follows.

First, with concrete data and vital evidence, the report indicates the burden of breast and cervical cancer is on the rise in Asia-Pacific, and this will worsen without concerted action.

Second, there is an urgent need to seize opportunities and act to address the significant challenges in breast and cervical cancer care, especially in policy and planning, prevention and screening, diagnosis and resource capacity, tTreatment and access, awareness and education

Third, countries must prioritize women's health by strengthening political will, establishing robust plans and measures, enhancing screening and prevention efforts, and tailoring approaches to improve equitable access.

It will also be crucial to work together to build capacity and funding as well as raise awareness as part of a comprehensive and patient-centric approach to achieve the WHO’s targets for breast cancer and the elimination of cervical cancer.

Roche commitment to improving women’s cancer care

Given that investment in women’s health is one of the core themes of the report, how can this investment generate a positive impact?

Carrillo: The first thing I wanted to touch on is a mindset issue that needs to be addressed. We need to stop thinking about health as an expenditure and start recognising it for what it is, an investment.

The numbers are unquestionable. At societal level, WHO has shown that for every VND we invest now in improving women’s health we can get 3.2 back and that is only the direct return, if we look at indirect impact the number can go as high as 26.

Reimbursement for breast and cervical cancer screening is not an expense, it’s an investment, and it has been proven that it can be a cost-saving intervention. We have to work on this mindset shift so that all stakeholders understand this.

Moreover, investing in women’s health isn’t simply investing in individual women, but also their families and their communities, as well as their country’s economy and future. For example, improved health outcomes for women can increase productivity by giving them more opportunities to contribute to their societies. This is especially important in lower income households, as women can support their families to achieve better financial health.

Can you elaborate on Roche’s regional commitment to women’s cancer care and women’s health?

Dr. Raza:As a company with more than 40 years of experience in women’s health, we understand that healthcare isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Improving health outcomes for women in this region means offering individualised and comprehensive care at every stage of life.

Specifically, we incorporate women’s experiences into the research and development and clinical trial process, from investing in early detection, to prevention and treatment of diseases. We strongly believe our prioritising and investing in a women-centric approach to health and care for women can create a healthier future for women not just in Vietnam, but in Asia Pacific and around the world.

Roche commitment to improving women’s cancer care

How does Roche perceive the role of public-private partnerships in women's health?

Carrillo: At Roche, our view is that the future of health systems is something in which we all have a shared responsibility. We are proud of our continued partnership with governments, NGOs, and the private sector in putting in place changes that will benefit patients and societies over the longer term, working in public-private partnerships that advocate for health literacy, policy shaping, advancements in digital health, infrastructure development, and better access to care for patients throughout the Asia Pacific region.

What are some highlight partnership projects you have in Vietnam?

Carrillo: In breast cancer, the programme we are best known for is "We care for Her" and then "Joining Hands for Her." Since 2013, Roche has partnered with stakeholders to improve early diagnosis and access to innovative therapies for women in Vietnam. Thanks to this joint-effort, more than 45,000 women were screened for free, 600 healthcare professionals were trained, and more women are being diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.

Dr. Raza: On the cervical cancer front, Roche has successfully collaborated with various stakeholders and authorities for HPV awareness campaigns over the years. Besides our HPV DNA tests offered to women at healthcare centres, in 2023, we introduced to the market HPV self sampling to aid women’s access and overcome psychological barriers. We work closely with our stakeholders in educational campaigns to help women understand all the available options for their cervix screening.

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By Thanh Van

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