Oncology funding critically low in Latvia

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In Latvia, cancer treatment is currently insufficient and in this respect the state is "chasing a runaway train", the head of the Latvian Association of Oncologists Chemotherapists Aija Geriņa-Bērziņa said in an interview to Latvian Radio October 14.

She said there is an increasing incidence of oncological diseases in Latvia, as well as the number of deaths caused by them. This is due to the fact that the disease is diagnosed late, and the treatment in Latvia is inadequate. Prevention tests are also essential to detect cancer at an early stage.

"Over the past 20 years, cancer treatment has developed enormously, we've helped patients. And in Latvia we need this new, advanced treatment that could help our patients," said Geriņa-Bērziņa, adding that state authorities' interest in dealing with oncology problems has not been sufficient.

She said there are many cases to be addressed in oncology, but the industry first wants a strategy-plan to deal with cancer diagnosis and treatment issues.

“It has been decided that such a plan should be in place, and we very much hope that we can take part in the development of this plan and that the plan should be put to action later,” Geriņa-Bērziņa said.

She pointed out that the plan should include a quality cancer screening program for patients to visit a doctor. It is currently apparent that many patients do not use state-paid tests. The plan should also provide for high-quality cancer diagnosis, as well as adequate treatment, as is the case elsewhere in the world.

“Latvia is currently chasing a runaway oncology train, but we would like to sit on that train and treat our patients the way they have to be treated. They should be given the treatment that is current in the world, evidence-based therapy (…) to prolong their survival,”

the doctor said, noting that such treatment is not cheap.

Funding for oncology is currently “disastrously low” and needs to be increased significantly, the association's head added.

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