Nowadays, the contemporary world suffers from several terminal diseases with high mortality and morbidity rates that scientists have not found a way to treat. One of them is cancer. Its prevalence level all over the developed and developing countries has been rising tremendously in the recent decades. It should be noted that the treatment methods and prevention techniques of this disease have significantly improved over the years. Today, the people diagnosed with cancer have higher chances of survival than in the past, though the death toll is still high. Moreover, most types of cancer are difficult to diagnose on time. That is why many people suffer from advanced stage cancer, which is extremely complicated in terms of its treatment. Most its types like lung or liver cancer do not always respond to existing treatment methods and require a lot of money, time, and efforts on behalf of the sick patient and doctors. Therefore, cancer cure becomes especially difficult and complex in the countries where health care costs are high and citizens lack an access to quality affordable medicine. One of the states where this disease is nowadays a topical issue and the number of patients has constantly been growing is China. However, this country is also characterized by high medical expenses and inability of many individuals to access treatment at the stage when cancer can still be treated. In general, the government of China should spend more money on the research and treatment of cancer. The reason is that it is a topical issue in the country that influences the lives of many people and contributes to the mortality rate within China.
The Chinese government should spend more money on cancer treatment, research, and prevention. The reason is that it is an extremely topical health concern in the country nowadays. The topicality of the problem is evident from the recent statistics related to the following fact. Its prevalent rate has been rapidly increasing in China in the recent years. Both the mass media and researchers have studied the statistics. They are alarmed about this fact because of the revealed trends. Hence, in 2015, more than 4 million individuals were diagnosed with cancer in China; and almost 3 million people died from this disease. The most attention in the media is dedicated to the topic of lung cancer, which is associated with worsening air pollution in the rapidly industrializing country. It is claimed that the lung cancer rate has increased four-fold. Millions of Chinese people will be diagnosed as having this particular type of cancer in the coming decades. The media report about the epidemic of this disease in the country, especially in industrial provinces and metropolitan areas. They emphasize that authorities seem reluctant to acknowledge – let along deal with – the epidemic. In general, the picture related to the spread of cancer and a governmental response to this process is quite gloomy and promises a bleak future for the Chinese population. Nonetheless, it is necessary to see whether these media statements accurately reflect the reality with the help of credible researches.
There is no officially reliable statistics on cancer incidence and mortality rates in the state. Therefore, the statistical data provided by researchers seem to be the only credible source of information on the issue. Hence, cancer is the leading death cause in urban China and the second one in rural China. The deaths from the disease account for more than 25% of all mortalities happening in urban areas and 21% in rural locations of the state. The incidence rate of cancer, in general, i.e. taking into consideration all its types, has increased significantly over the past three decades. For instance, in the 1970s, cancer occurred in 74.2 individuals per 100,000 people. In the 1990s, this figure increased to 108.3 persons per 100,000 ones. In 2004, the number reached 135.9 cases per 100,000 people. In 2015, the incidence rate for the urban population amounted to 191.5 new cases per 100,000 individuals. Meanwhile for rural areas it was 213.6 incidences per 100,000 individuals. Respectively, the mortality rate has increased for the urban population to 109.5 instances per 100,000 persons and for the rural locations to 149 incidences per 100,000 cases. This way, it becomes evident that recently there has occurred a reverse shift in the cancer trends. Previously cancer rates for the urban population were traditionally higher than for rural areas with the exception of industrial counties. However, these recent changes in cancer trends may be explained by the following fact. The rural population has been aging faster than urban dwellers. Cancer is traditionally correlated with the aging processes in the society. Another possible explanation is missing the reliable data. That is why it becomes obvious that the government needs to spend more money on the cancer research. Prior to launching prevention and intervention programs, it is necessary to know incidence, mortality and morbidity rates.
Different types of cancer need various responses and investments from the government. In China, the top five types of this disease in terms of mortality and incidence include lung, liver, gastric, esophageal, and colorectal cancer. However, this ranking is applicable to urban locations. Meanwhile in rural areas the top five types of cancer in a descending order include liver cancer, lung cancer, gastric cancer, esophageal cancer, and colorectal cancer. Other prevalent kinds of this disease in urban regions include pancreas cancer, leukemia, female breast cancer, brain tumor, and gallbladder cancer. Meanwhile in rural areas the other five high incidences of it include leukemia, brain tumor, female breast cancer, pancreas cancer, and bone cancer. The statistics show that the Chinese government needs to allocate different amounts of funds to various cancer programs depending on the particular type of the disease and the region where the program is to be launched. It is not efficient to merely create cancer awareness projects that will be universal all over China. It is reasonable to spend more money on cancer research, in particular, on the collection of credible and current statistical data.
Another reason why the government needs to spend more money on cancer research, treatment, and prevention is a fact that the patients diagnosed with this disease constitute vulnerable groups of the population. Hitchens tells his personal story in the article titled Topic of Cancer and shows how vulnerable the individuals with cancer are. However, his narration concerns mostly the US cancer patients for whom the new land is quite welcoming in its way as everybody smiles encouragingly and a generally egalitarian spirit prevails. In turn, Chinese patients lack an access to this world of quality care. Most Chinese individuals suspecting that they have health problems can wait months for a doctor’s appointment and often it is too late for treatment and the cancer is too advanced. In addition to psychological problems and stress of facing imminent deaths, Chinese cancer patients cannot afford any treatment that is available in the country. Currently, the people in China access three insurance plans, including urban resident basic medical insurance, urban employed basic medical insurance, and new rural cooperative medical insurance. None of these plans completely reimburses the costs of cancer treatment and diagnostics. Many people cannot merely afford to cover the remaining treatment expenses. That is why many Chinese people choose not to use traditional cancer treatments offered by state hospitals. In turn, only the wealthy can afford receiving innovative cure and conventional healing in private facilities where one procedure may cost more than $20,000. Patients need to receive three-four treating sessions and repeat them every two-three months in addition to the initial aggressive treatment stage. Therefore, the government should assist ordinary Chinese individuals with accessing affordable cancer care in order to decrease the mortality rate.
Nonetheless, it is often argued that the Chinese government should not spend more money on cancer research and its healing. The reason is that it already spends a lot on this problem. The Chinese government has launched so far six major public health programs aimed at combating cancer epidemics in the country. Moreover, the authority has to compensate for the costs invoked by cancer as the total economic cost of the disease in the state is 86.65 billion RMB with direct expenses. They are being at the level of 28.45 billion RMB and 58.40 billion RMB in indirect costs. High cancer incidences and mortality rates decrease the number of the working population, contributing to the economic burden on the national economy the government needs to compensate somehow. In turn, the construction of cancer centers is highly expensive with all expenses on one center amounting to $2.5 billion. In order to cover the entire population of the state and given the increasing prevalence of cancer, many centers are needed throughout the state. The government cannot afford investing all of them. That is why the current strategy of inviting foreign investors to cooperate with private Chinese facilities seem to be the most cost-efficient and effective ones.
Moreover, if the government starts spending more money on cancer, there will be less available funding for other programs and needs. These ones include, for instance, social benefits, retirement funds, education, science, and defense. Although cancer affects a large number of the population, it seems to be more cost-effective to direct funds towards other projects that can indirectly benefit the cancer situation. One of such programs is the environmental protection, in general, and addressing the pressing problem of air pollution, in particular. The matter is that, as mentioned above, lung cancer rates have increased exponentially along with the degradation of air in China. Air pollution is responsible for the majority of cases of this disease in urban areas and industrial rural regions. Therefore, the government needs to invest more into this problem; and many people in China believe this way. A husband of a lung cancer patient claims that addressing this issue would be the most effective measure of improving the situation with this disease in the country. Moreover, a lack of public and political awareness about the disease and its consequences is severely hampering efforts to improve quality of care. Increasing such awareness does not require a lot of additional funds. Therefore, the government can develop some initiatives that would have low costs though being aimed at mitigating consequences of the cancer epidemic and improving the overall situation in the state. Hence, money is not an only essential element for fighting against cancer in China.
Cancer is a serious and topical problem in China just like in most developed countries. The incidence and mortality rates of all types of this disease have significantly increased in the country in the recent years. However, the state response to the problem remains inadequate taking into account the fact that the mortality level has not been decreased. Therefore, considering all the above mentioned arguments, the following fact becomes evident. The Chinese government should spend more money on cancer research, treatment, and prevention with a perspective to benefit its citizens.
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