THE Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to institutionalize a national integrated cancer control program in the country.
Senate Bill No. 1850, sponsored by Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, was approved with 18 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention.
Ejercito, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said the bill seeks to address various gaps in cancer care and integrate policies and programs for its prevention, detection, correct diagnosis, treatment and palliative care, pain management and survivorship or end of life.
“Through the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, we can give cancer patients a choice, we can give them hope -- hope that they will have an equitable and affordable cancer treatment and care especially for the underprivileged and marginalized Filipinos,” Ejercito said.
According to Ejercito, cancer is the third leading cause of adult death in the Philippines and fourth in child morbidity.
The Department of Health (DOH) estimated up to eight deaths per day for childhood cancer and up to 11 new cases and seven deaths every hour for adult cancer. This computes to a figure of approximately 110,000 new cancer cases and over 66,000 cancer deaths each year.
A recent study conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) showed that mortality ratio among the poor was quite high. The study attributed the high number of deaths among patients with cancer to weak health systems, limited access to quality cancer care and partly to the late diagnosis of common cancers.