The Impact of COVID-19 on Cancer Care in the Post Pandemic World: Five Major Lessons Learnt from Challenges and Countermeasures of Major Asian Cancer Centres

Document Type: Research Articles

Authors

1 National Cancer Center, Tokyo, Japan.

2 Lady Hardinge Medical College & Associated Hospitals, Delhi, India.

3 Dharmais Hospital - National Cancer Center, Jakarta, Indonesia.

4 National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

5 JDWNR Hospital Thimphu University of Medical Sciences, Bhutan.

6 The Brunei Cancer Centre, Brunei Darussalam.

7 Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow transplantation Research Center, Shariati Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Science,Tehran, Iran.

8 Cancer Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

9 National Cancer Center of Korea, Goyang-si Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea.

10 National Cancer Institute, Putrajaya, Malaysia.

11 National Cancer Center of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

12 Myanmar Yangon General Hospital, Yangon, Myanmar.

13 Kathmandu Cancer Center, Bhaktapur, Nepal.

14 Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, Lahore, Pakistan.

15 National Taiwan University Cancer Center Hospital, Taipei City, Taiwan.

16 Taiwan Cancer Registry, and Institute of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.

17 National Cancer Institute, Bangkok, Thailand.

18 National Cancer Institute, National Cancer Hospital, Hanoi, Vietnam.

19 City Cancer Challenge Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland.

20 Dr BR Ambedkar Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital & National Cancer Institute, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, India.

21 Tata Memorial Centre, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.

22 Medical School, Shahid Behshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

23 National Cancer Centre, Singapore.

Abstract

Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected healthcare services around Asia. The Asian National Cancer Centres Alliance and the Asia-Pacific Organisation for Cancer Prevention collaborated to assess the mid- and long- term impact of COVID-19 to cancer care in Asia. Methods: The two entities organised a combined symposium and post-meeting interactions among representatives of major cancer centres from seventeen Asian countries to outlining major challenges and countermeasures. Results: Participating stakeholders distilled five big questions. 1) “Will there be an explosion of late-stage cancers after the pandemic?” To address and recover from perceived delayed prevention, screening, treatment and care challenges, collaboration of key stakeholders in the region and alignment in cancer care management, policy intervention and cancer registry initiatives would be of essential value. 2) “Operations and Finance” The pandemic has resulted in significant material and financial casualties. Flagged acute challenges (shortages of supplies, imposition of lockdown) as well as longer-standing reduction of financial revenue, manpower, international collaboration, and training should also be addressed. 3) “Will telemedicine and technological innovations revolutionize cancer care?” Deploying and implementing telemedicine such as teleconsultation and virtual tumour boards were considered invaluable. These innovations could become a new regular practice, leading to expansion of tele-collaboration through collaboration of institutions in the region. 4) “Will virtual conferences continue after the pandemic?” Virtual conferences during the pandemic have opened new doors for knowledge sharing, especially for representatives of low- and middle-income countries in the region, while saving time and costs of travel. 5) “How do we prepare for the next pandemic or international emergency?” Roadmaps for action to improve access to appropriate patient care and research were identified and scrutinised. Conclusion: Through addressing these five big questions, focused collaboration among members and with international organisations such as City Cancer Challenge will allow enhanced preparedness for future international emergencies.
 

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