Bill on cancer control program awaits Duterte's signature
MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to integrate a national cancer control program and to establish a Philippine Cancer Center is awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte after Congress approved the measure.
The passage of the bill, which was transmitted to Malacañang on January 17, would address gaps in cancer care and would 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,” said Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, chair of the Senate health committee.
Once signed into law, cancer patients, persons living with cancer, and cancer survivors shall be considered as persons with disabilities (PWDs) and be accorded the same rights and privileges as PWDs.
Under the act, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) shall expand its benefit packages to include screening, detection, diagnosis, treatment assistance, supportive care, survivorship follow-up care and rehabilitation, and end of-life-care, for all types and stages of cancer in both adults and children.
The Insurance Commission shall also mandate all Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) to cover genetic counseling and testing, cancer screening, diagnostic and palliative care, among others.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health shall ensure sufficient and affordable supply of medicines for cancer patients.
Cancer-related absences from work of member employees and voluntary members shall be covered and compensated by the sickness benefits of the Social Security System and the disability benefits of the Government Service Insurance System.
The measure also mandates the establishment of the Philippine Cancer Center under the control and supervision of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital. Regional cancer centers shall also be established nationwide.
Cancer is considered the 3rd leading cause of adult death and the 4th for child morbidity in the Philippines.
The Department of Health said there are an estimated 8 deaths per day for child cancer and up to 11 new cases and 7 deaths per hour for adult cancer. This translates to almost 110,000 new cancer cases and over 66,000 cancer deaths every year. – Rappler.com