PSMAS pays ZW$70million on cancer drugs annually

By Kudakwashe Pembere

ZIMBABWE’S leading medical aid society by subscriber base Premier Medical Aid Society forks out about ZW$6 million every month on cancer management drugs which runs into an estimate of ZW$70 million annually.

In a webinar yesterday, Addeessing a webinar ahead of the Cancer month PSMAS Health Risk & Utilization Management Dr Takaitei Kanongara linking with the latest national cancer register said they served around 450 to 550 members with cancer.

“You will realise that from time to time it flactuates around 450 to 550 patients within our insured population. If I am to take what Dr Mudavanhu was saying presenting the latest Cancer stats for Zimbabwe of about 11 900 patients with cancer, the burden for PSMAS is quite high. Its almost 4 percent of those in the national register who are actually members of PSMAS,” he said “Because of early treatment seeking behaviours , early treatment mechanisms, you may find that it is actually higher than the 4 percent.”

He noted that most of their members seeking prostate cancer oncology services were below 40.

“Some, we may even capture them at an early stage when it’s complicated and it requires more expensive interventions.
“Of those 474 we have got 23 of them which is about 5 percent actually being prostate cancer patients. So its quite a significant contribution to the cancer register by PSMAS. The majority of these patients are above 36 years. That is 36 to 65 and we also have those above 65,” said Dr Kanongara.

He added, “In terms of utilisation, you will find that just by merely looking at oncology drugs, the current monthly average that we spend is close to ZW$6 million in a month and we then project that to an annual spending on oncology drugs of ZW$70 million that has to be budgeted towards oncology drugs. We are saying that oncology drugs are part of the journey to cancer management. We talk of other interventions such as diagnosis, radiotherapy and so on. You may then realise that the total expenditure on cancer management is 25 percent of our total health expenditure as funders.”
According to Dr Kanongara surgery for the prostate is expensive.
“The average cost for cancer surgery of the prostate is ZW$80 000. The ZW$80 000 perhaps could be an understatement given the market rates. Utilising the PSA screening benefit offered to our members is on a monthly average of ZW$240 000 we are spending towards that. That goes to show how committed we are to this noble cause of making sure that we catch them early and screen them. That projects to about ZW$2, 7 million annually in terms of just screening through the PSA initiative,”he said.

He said they encourage a culture of wellness through lifestyle changes.

“PSMAS approach to prevention is the primary and secondary prevention. With Primary targeting health promotion and health education through various media platforms. The secondary prevention talks to the actual screening and benefits that we offer as a society or as a funder. Our members get access to these PSA tests. Lifestyle modifications can actually reduce the risk of getting prostate cancer. The low fat diet, lean meat, eliminating smoking as well as regular screening particularly those above 45 years,” Dr Kanongara said.

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