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National Cancer Society Malaysia and IBM team up to use data to combat cancer

National Cancer Society Malaysia and IBM team up to use data to combat cancer

IBM’s Impact Grant Program provide strategies to roll out impactful campaigns

KUALA LUMPUR, 9 February 2018: IBM and the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) are teaming up to leverage insights garnered from data analytics to combat cancer. NCSM is believed to the first non-profit cancer organisation in Malaysia to adopt a “data-first” mindset to enhance its outreach.

In December last year, a team of IBM consultants developed a customized and actionable roadmap through the Leading with Data Impact Grant for NCSM. The roadmap outlines the necessary steps to empower NCSM in their data journey to capture and manage meaningful data. It also includes metrics to enable NCSM to track programme results and roll out strategic tactics.

This consulting effort is part of IBM’s Impact Grant program – a pro bono initiative that provides consulting expertise and technology such as cognitive, cloud, mobile and social to support non-profit organizations in serving their stakeholders effectively.

“NCSM’s collaboration with IBM has given us a new appreciation of the value of data. We realise the importance of moving beyond measuring programme outputs and working towards turning data into information and insights to demonstrate our impact,” said NCSM Vice President Ms Clare Ratnasingham. “This understanding not only provides us with systematic ‘data-first’ model but it will surely accelerate our practice to rely on quantified evidence in developing strategies for our campaigns to combat cancer, starting with our youth smoking cessation programme.”

NCSM’s “Quit Smoking” Clinic and education programme in communities and schools aim to reduce tobacco use among 5 million Malaysians’ smokers as well as smoking-related deaths in the country. According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015, smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases are the main causes of premature death in Malaysia, resulting in 20,000 dead annually.

Ratnasingham said that this year, NCSM aims to build on its current database by collecting data on triggers for smoking among youths aged 12-to 15-years-old and the motivation to quit smoking. Insights from the data will be influential on improving the success rates of smoking cessation programmes.

“The Leading with Data project is timely as it coincides with World Cancer Day 2016-2018 theme of ‘We can. I can.’ that explores our collective action to reduce the global burden of cancer. This year – 2018 – is the third and final year for World Cancer Day. Which makes our advocacy vital and urgent,” she added.

Government health statistics indicates that 37,000 Malaysians are diagnosed with cancer each year. The three most common cancers affecting Malaysians are breast cancer (32.1%), colorectal cancer (13.2%) and lung cancer (10.2%).

IBM worked with the NCSM leadership team through intensive consultations to understand the organization’s current capabilities and opportunities for data analytics. IBM tapped into its consulting practice and expertise to develop an actionable roadmap to enable NCSM to effectively distil information received from its multiple data sources in its fight against cancer.

“At IBM, we aim to make a sustainable impact in our communities and we find this possible for cancer by continuing to contribute our talent and expertise to enable NCSM to be successful in embracing the era of data and to become a data-driven organization,” said IBM Malaysia managing director Ms Chong Chye Neo. “With this grant, we would have committed RM87,200 in expertise as part of our commitment to advance the current state of data and analytics use in the fight against cancer.”

Ms Chong also added, “The outcome will enable NCSM to embrace the use of data to assess its impact, drive decision-making and enable the organization to be more skilful with its work in cancer.”

Following the Leading with Data Impact Grant, a team of IBM Volunteers will jointly work with the NCSM data champions to implement the strategies developed.

NCSM, set up in 1966, is a pioneer not-for-profit cancer organisation that provides education, care and support services for people affected by cancer.