MANILA – Taking up the cudgels for Filipino cancer patients, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte vowed to ensure funding for the implementation of the National Integrated Cancer Control (NICC) Act of 2019.
Velasco said the Lower House will push for adequate funding for the NICC law in the upcoming bicameral conference on the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021.
“The importance of this law and its full implementation cannot be overstated.
We have to make sure that it is sufficiently funded so it could effectively serve its purpose of strengthening government efforts to combat cancer and increasing the fighting chance of patients to overcome the disease,” said Velasco.
Velasco shared the sentiments of Rep. Duterte, who earlier underscored the need for Congress to ensure that the NICC law is adequately funded.
“Congressman Pulong and I want to make sure that cancer treatment and care will be more equitable and affordable for all, especially for the underprivileged, poor and marginalized Filipinos as envisioned in the NICC law,” Velasco said, noting that cancer care and treatment could be costly.
The House leader pointed out that cancer is one of the leading causes of death and disease in the Philippines, and it could “take a toll on people’s health and finances.”
Citing a study conducted by the University of the Philippines Institute of Human Genetics, Velasco said that 189 of every 100,000 Filipinos are afflicted with cancer while 96 cancer patients die every day.
Velasco said the high cost of cancer diagnosis and treatment could push even high-income families to sudden financial struggle.
According to the Cancer Coalition Philippines, a breast ultrasound—which is but one of many tests for breast cancer—could range from P600 to as high as P3,000 depending on the hospital. A colonoscopy could cost from P1,500 to around P14,000 exclusive of professional fees.
Depending on the type of cancer, chemotherapy cost per session can range from P20,000 to P120,000 or more.
“Certainly, the economic burden of cancer care and treatment is overwhelming and it has the potential to drive Filipino families deeper into poverty,” said Velasco.
The NICC Act, which was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in February last year, establishes a National Integrated Cancer Control Program which would serve as the framework for all cancer-related activities of the government.
The program aims to decrease the overall mortality and impact of all adult and childhood cancer; lessen the incidence of preventable cancer in adults and children; and prevent cancer recurrence, metastasis and secondary cancer among survivors and people living with cancer.
It also seeks to provide timely access to optimal cancer treatment and care for all cancer patients; make cancer treatment and care more affordable and accessible; improve the experience of cancer treatment and care of patients and families; support the recovery and reintegration to society of the cancer survivors; and eliminate various forms of burden on patients, people living with cancer, survivors and their families.
Earlier, the President’s eldest kin requested Velasco to ensure that there’s enough funds to assist cancer patients.
Duterte, whose mother, Elizabeth Zimmerman is a breast cancer survivor and now a breast cancer advocate, cited the need to “prioritize the needs of our fellow country men especially those who don’t have enough income or capabilities to survive their illnesses.”
“My Mom is a cancer survivor. Diagnosed in 2016 and successfully recovered more than a year after treatment and long-term survivorship transitions. It is our duty to provide help to every fellow citizens to our best. Give them a second chance to live,” said the younger Duterte. (CMC)