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Medicines, treatment within reach for poor cancer patients

Alfred Vargas
Alfred Vargas

MEDICINES and treatment for cancer will be within reach for indigent cancer patients next year with the allocation of P620 million for the Department of Health’s (DoH) cancer assistance fund.

Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, vice chairman of the House appropriations committee, said the fund was included in the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021, which the Senate and House of Representatives ratified this week.

Vargas thanked members of the bicameral conference committee for presenting a “united front” and allocating adequate funds to help poor cancer patients have access to treatment and medicines.

“I am particularly grateful to Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco and House Accounts Committee Chairman Paolo Duterte for their efforts in ensuring the effective implementation of the National Integrated Cancer Control (NICC) law. The cancer assistance fund will greatly ease the financial burden of cancer patients and their families,” Vargas, chairman of the House committee on social services, said.

Velasco and Duterte earlier assured the NICC law’s implementation will be funded next year.

Republic Act No. 11215, which was signed into law in 2019, ran the risk of being unfunded after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) disapproved the DoH’s proposal to allocate P540 million for the cancer assistance fund.

Vargas, whose mother succumbed to cancer in 2014, is the principal author of the NICC law’s House version. RA 11215 establishes an NICC program that will serve as the framework for all of the government’s cancer-related activities, with the goal of decreasing the overall mortality and impact of all adult and childhood cancer.

“This is only the first step. If we are to succeed in making cancer treatment more affordable, we will have to ensure the NICC law’s implementation is funded yearly until we create a fully-working system,” he said.

According to the Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN), more than 141,000 Filipinos were diagnosed with cancer in 2018. Of this number, over 60 percent or 86,337 of those diagnosed died.

Meanwhile, a 2020 report from the World Cancer Initiative revealed that the Philippines placed 10th out of 10 countries in the Asia Pacific region in cancer care preparedness.

The Cancer Coalition of the Philippines also said that around 96 cancer patients die in the country every day. Ryan Ponce Pacpaco

Publication Source :    People's Tonight