Cancer patients

PEOPLE can’t remain silent much longer while the dreaded cancer, which is among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality across the globe, claims the lives of four Filipinos every 60 minutes.

Records show that the most common cancers are breast, lung, colorectal, liver and prostate.

That’s why we, like other well-meaning people, add our voice to a suggestion made by Sen. Nancy Binay that there’s now a need to fully implement the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA).

NICCA, as complemented by the Universal Health Care (UHC) legislation, aims to help cancer patients access much-needed health services to cushion the “financial impact” on the patient and the family.

Under the said law, there should be a Cancer Assistance Fund under the Department of Health (DOH) to provide financial assistance to cancer patients in need, particularly the poorest of the poor.

But Binay, a daughter of former Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, lamented that “hanggang ngayon (ay) parang hindi pa rin ramdam ng mga cancer patient ang tulong na ipinangako ng batas.”

The lady lawmaker expressed her disappointment after the Senate hearing on the proposed 2021 budget of the health department revealed that there’s no specific item for the Cancer Assistance Fund.

According to health officials, they have already proposed a P535-million budget for the fund, but it is yet to be approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

She advised Health Secretary Francisco Duque to first draft clear guidelines on how indigent patients can avail themselves of the aid so that the DOH would have no problems in the implementation.

Binay’s suggestion is a wake-up call to concerned government authorities to now fully implement the National Integrated Cancer Control Act while the government is battling the COVID-19 pandemic.