Better treatment results through Universal Health Coverage (UHC)
Indonesia started in 2014 with the introduction of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to make care accessible and affordable for all inhabitants of the country. As a result, the number of children insured rose from 38% to 82%. The number of children with cancer who stopped treatment prematurely fell sharply. Introduction of UHC leads to improved treatment results and survival chances for children with cancer, according to research conducted by professionals from our partner hospital in Indonesia together with colleagues from the Princess Máxima Center.
The United Nations, the World Health Council and more than 500 health organizations have called on governments in developing countries to implement Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Implementation of UHC will improve access to medical care and thus improve the health and productivity of their populations. To date, however, only a few countries have responded to this international call.
Indonesia implements UHC
Indonesia is one of the few developing countries that have, in 2014, started a very ambitious plan to introduce UHC for its 254 million inhabitants. The aim of the Indonesian government is to make medical care accessible and affordable for all Indonesians. The main reason for the failure of childhood cancer treatments in Indonesia is the premature abandonment of the expensive therapy, especially among the poor population.
Over the past two years the Indonesian pediatrician Braghmandita Widya Indraswari, together with Dutch medical students Sofi Vassileva and Emil Kelling, have carried out an important study at the Dr Sardjito Hospital in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The aim was to clarify the impact of implementing UHC on the survival of children with cancer. They were guided by pediatric oncologist Gertjan Kaspers and physician-researcher Saskia Mostert of the Princess Máxima Center.
The study compared the treatment results of children with cancer before and after the introduction of UHC. In total, the files of 1040 children with cancer were studied. After the introduction of UHC we saw that the number of children insured had increased from 38% to 82%. It also appeared that the number of children who stopped treatment prematurely decreased and that the chances of survival increased significantly after the introduction of UHC, especially among poor patients. Based on this research it can be concluded that the introduction of UHC by the Indonesian government contributes significantly to improved treatment results and survival of children with cancer. This is promising news. It is an inspiring step forward in striving for a world in which every child with cancer has access to medical care and a chance of survival.