Cancer is a common concern for countries in the Asia-Pacific region, yet treatment of the disease varies markedly among its various healthcare systems. A new study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)—Controlling cancer: The state of national cancer control plans in Asia, commissioned by Mundipharma— looks at the state of cancer control in Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Through in-depth desk research and interviews with healthcare officials, the report qualitatively assesses how these countries are dealing with cancer, focusing on similarities and differences in the implementation of National Cancer Control Plans (NCCPs).   

The study finds that resources are a key success factor, with the three countries most successful in fighting the disease—Australia, South Korea and Taiwan—also the wealthiest. Within the developed markets studied, quality of governance also plays a crucial role in cancer control: the study highlights that the existence of a NCCP with clear national objectives, quality assurance mechanisms and integrated case management account for close to a quarter of the difference in cancer outcomes.

Wealthy countries might be better at treating cancer but the disease is much more prevalent there: it accounts for between 25% and 30% of deaths in Australia, South Korea and Taiwan compared to 7% in India and 13% in Indonesia.