By Ellson A. Quismorio
House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Davao City 1st district Rep. Karlo Nograles on Friday assured the approval of the funding provisions of a pet bill that addresses the present limitations on cancer care in the country.
Filed by Nograles in August 2017, House Bill (HB) No. 6210 bats for the institutionalization of the National Integrated Cancer Control Program. It was approved by the Health Committee the following month.
“Upholding the funding requirements of the measure will put it one step closer toward its enactment, which can’t come sooner for Filipinos whose loved ones are afflicted by this curse of a disease,” said Nograles, who further described cancer as a “growing and serious public health concern in the Philippines.”
“The key word here is ‘integrated,’ because what we want to create is a health program that brings together efforts on cancer awareness and treatment,” he noted.
Nograles said that the envisioned National Integrated Cancer Control Program shall serve as the framework for all cancer-related activities of the government.
The proposed National Integrated Cancer Control Act also seeks to make cancer treatment and care affordable.
“Through this bill, the state will be able to provide more PhilHealth benefits for cancer patients and access to better medication and health care services of the Department of Health (DOH),” Nograles said.
The bill establishes the National Integrated Cancer Control Advisory Board, which shall carry out the implementation of the program.
Perhaps the biggest concern of families with cancer patients is the daunting cost of the treatment, since it could push them deeper into poverty. The Davao solon acknowledges this and presents a solution in his bill by setting up the Cancer Assistance Fund.
“With this trust fund in place, relatives of cancer patients won’t feel that they are alone in their battle to save their loved one. And it really does become a long and at times discouraging battle,” said Nograles.
The 10 percent incremental revenue from the excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products collected by the government pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 10351 shall be made the main source of the Cancer Assistance Fund.