13 December 2018
Alison Pearce – Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation
Overall winner 2018 HSRAANZ Best Health Services & Policy Research Paper
Background: Over two-thirds of the world’s cancer deaths occur in economically developing countries; however, the societal costs of cancer have rarely been assessed in these settings. Our aim was to estimate the value of productivity lost in 2012 due to cancer-related premature mortality in the major developing economies of Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa (BRICS).
Methods: We applied an incidence-based method using the human capital approach. We used annual adult cancer deaths from GLOBOCAN to estimate the years of productive life lost between cancer death and pensionable age in each country, valued using national and international data for wages, and workforce statistics. Sensitivity analyses examined various methodological assumptions.
Results: The total cost of lost productivity due to premature cancer mortality in the BRICS countries in 2012 was $46·3 billion, representing 0·33% of their combined gross domestic product. The largest total productivity loss was in China ($28 billion), while South Africa had the highest cost per cancer death ($101,000). Total productivity losses were greatest for lung cancer in Brazil, the Russian Federation and South Africa; liver cancer in China; and lip and oral cavity cancers in India.
Conclusion: Locally-tailored strategies are required to reduce the economic burden of cancer in developing economies. Focussing on tobacco control, vaccination programs and cancer screening, combined with access to adequate treatment, could yield significant gains for both public health and economic performance of the BRICS countries.
Alison is a health economist interested in the various costs of cancer. Her research aims to use health services research and health economics to improve cancer care by providing relevant, reliable information for decision making. Based at the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE) at UTS, she is working in the areas of productivity loss and patient preferences, including currently visiting the University of British Colombia to develop a decision aid for people choosing cancer treatments. Her research extends the work she did on the economics of cancer survivorship at the National Cancer Registry in Ireland. Alison completed her PhD on the costs of chemotherapy side effects, at CHERE in 2013, before which she worked in cancer clinical trials and health services research. Her original training was in occupational therapy, and she remains interested in rehabilitation research. She also has keen interests in early career researcher development, communicating research to the public, and the use of social media in academia.