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Let’s help cancer patients

  • Written by People's Tonight
  • Published in Newsdesk
  • Read: 2156

IT is certainly alarming and regrettable that many cancer patients across the Philippines, particularly in far-flung communities, have to endure unimaginable and excruciating pain due to low access to strong painkillers, such as morphine.
The mushrooming number of cancer patients who die annually without taking strong painkillers should bring home the lesson that there’s now that urgent need to find ways of helping relieve the pain suffered by people battling the disease.
No less than Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, herself a cancer patient, has filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 1215, which seeks an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into reports that every year, 98,200 Filipinos are diagnosed with cancer.
Citing official data from the Philippine Cancer Society (PCS) and the Association of Southeast Asian Pain Societies (ASEAPS), the highly-articulate and hard-hitting Santiago said that 59,000 of the 98,200 cancer patients die.
PCS and ASEAPS blamed the “painful deaths” to the people’s low access to strong painkillers, noting that the country’s consumption was only 0.6 milligram per capita, way below the global average of 6.11 mgs per capita.
Factors limiting the distribution of pain killers in this poverty-stricken nation include insufficient public knowledge, lack of support from the medical community and refusal of patients to receive treatment despite their needs.
And we agree with PCS and ASEAPS when they urged members of Congress to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 9165, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Law to set rules on providing the seriously ill with easier access to pain medication.
Like Ms. Santiago, we believe that it’s high time to ensure that Filipino cancer patients have easy access to means of easing their pain and not prevented from such relief by outdated laws, government neglect or sheer ignorance.
In the view of various quarters, government authorities in a country where many people die of cancer throughout year are duty-bound to ensure that individuals, from the mighty to the lowly, have the right to a dignified death.
It’s a move in the right direction.