Sunday, November 24

Hot Topic: The Growing Cancer Burden

The topic this time is on the personal level.

Oman is facing an almost two-fold increase in cancer incidence in the period 2008-2020 source. As observed in many countries, Oman is challenged by the ageing population and increased cancer risks largely due to the lifestyle changes. In anticipation of the rising numbers Oman, through the Ministry of Health, requested an IAEA imPACT Review. The mission was conducted on 26-30 January 2013 to assess the national cancer control capacity and needs in order to more effectively and efficiently address the cancer burden. source

The trend locally is to seek 2nd opinion, usually in neighboring Asian countries. This usually isn't really to the advantage of the cancer patient, since diagnosis of cancer in Oman and arriving at the hospital abroad can take time to arrange most patients medical diagnosis increase considerably and the patient’s performance status declines.

Why do most patient opt for a "second opinion"? In the case of my mother it was the solely due to comfort and hygiene. She is a much older woman who would prefer the privacy of a private room, and utilising a private bathroom. I must mention that she is not unique in her choice since most people in the local community opt to do the same for the basic fact that facilities are very minimal. Imagine the scene where you are admitted into hospital, sharing a hall with 8 other patients with a curtain partition as your only means of privacy (and this is only one side of the hall). You can double that number 4times to one side of a hospital wing. All of these patience have access to one restroom making it an ill fit situation to be at if you are to stay at the hospital for at least 3-4days period. Keep in mind that there limited number of private rooms available at hand.

Yet, a significant number of patients, especially from small towns, bypass the tertiary care/specialist hospitals available to them in bigger centres and immediately go abroad. Once overseas, they may not be provided with a second opinion, but instead are started on the first stage of treatment even when it is uncalled for. Patients invariably return home to continue the treatment.

In order to overcome the challenge, there is an urgent need to study patients’ or their decision makers’ motives and expectations. Meanwhile, it may help Omani patients diagnosed with cancer and their families, who are seeking a cure wherever it may be found, to know that the World Health Organization (WHO) has ranked Oman as the most efficient ‘health care system in the world in terms of outcomes’ source. Furthermore, patients should be advised that second opinions can be easily and quickly sought at little or no cost through fax, email, and tele-medicine from places in Oman or abroad that are widely perceived to be centres of academic and clinical excellence.

My mum did opt to continue her treatment locally. In this society patients do not always make their own decisions. They are often influenced by the care-givers/well-wishers who, in some cases, are the only ones involved in important decisions.

There needs to be some sort of medical awareness, and hospital code of operations when dealing with serious illness in Oman.

Don't get me started on waiting lists, and medical reports that never get filled.

ايش اللقطه

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