Rs1 million treatment cost for a tobacco-related cancer patient: ReportTobacco use claims 1.6 million lives every year in the South-East Asia region, which is among the largest producers and consumers of tobacco products.
A patient suffering from tobacco-related cancer in Nepal spends around Rs1 million on average on the diagnosis and treatment of the disease, says the finding of a report published recently.
Approximately a sixth of the patients have sold their property for the treatment, according to the report titled ‘Cost Analysis of Diagnosis and Treatment of Tobacco-related Cancer’ carried out by Action Nepal, a non-governmental organisation that promotes tobacco control activities in the country.
Although the study was carried out in 2019, its report was unveiled only recently. The Nepal Health Research Council has also published the report in its journal.
“Patients in Nepal can hardly afford the treatment of cancer, which is too costly,” said Anand Bahadur Chand, project director of the organisation. “Selling property is a compulsion for the patients and their families. The entire family has to bear the consequences when one of its members suffers from cancer.”
Tobacco, which kills nearly 8 million people every year, is the world’s leading cause of preventable deaths. Every year, it claims 1.6 million lives in the South-East Asia Region, which is among the largest producers and consumers of tobacco products.
Experts say tobacco use is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCD), including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung diseases and diabetes.
The report shows that each patient’s average direct medical cost was found to be Rs588,740 (60 percent) in 2019, whereas the average direct non-medical cost was Rs123,147. Wage loss due to ailment was 27 percent.
The study was conducted on 103 patients suffering from tobacco-related cancer who had been receiving treatment at the BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital, Bharatpur, Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital and Harisiddhi-based Nepal Cancer Hospital.
The average age of the patients suffering from tobacco-related cancer was found to be 53.5 years. Of the total respondents, 46 percent were found to be illiterate and 1.9 percent had higher education.
The government provided Rs100,000 for the treatment of cancer to each patient, which is less than one-fourth of the total treatment cost, according to the report.
The report suggests an increase in the grant provided to cancer patients by the government and taxes on tobacco products.
The Non-communicable Disease Risk Factors: STEPS Survey Nepal 2019 showed the prevalence of tobacco use among the respondents was 29 percent (48.3 percent men and 11.6 percent women).
Among them, 24 percent were found to be using tobacco daily, and 17 percent smoked.
The survey found that 22.5 percent of the adults (3.5 million) were exposed to second-hand smoke at their workplace, and 33.5 percent of adults (5.5 million) were exposed to second-hand smoke at home.
The survey, which was also carried out separately in all seven provinces, found that 36.6 percent of the respondents used tobacco products in Lumbini Province, 33.8 percent in Sudurpaschim Province, 29.7 percent in Karnali Province, 29.4 percent in Madhesh Province, 25.9 percent in Gandaki Province and 22.2 percent in Bagmati Province.