By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara is calling on fellow lawmakers to expedite the passage of the measure that would make cancer treatment more equitable and affordable to all Filipinos.
“Since social safety nets are limited, patients and their families are forced to use their hard-earned savings and assets for medical expenses. Some discontinue their treatment out of financial incapability,” said Angara in his recent sponsorship speech on Senate Bill No. 1570 or the proposed National Integrated Cancer Control Act.
Citing a 2016 Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report, Angara said neoplasms or tumors—which are commonly associated with cancer is the second leading cause of death for Filipinos, next only to heart ailments.
For every hour, at least four Filipinos die from cancer, according to the University of the Philippines-Institute of Human Genetics, he said.
The senator noted that the country is ill-prepared to provide proper cancer care and that is why it is imperative for the government to put in place an integrated cancer control and management program.
The bill specifically seeks to provide for a Cancer Assistance Fund to support the medical and treatment assistance program for cancer patients.
It also seeks to expand PhilHealth’s current benefits to include screening, detection, diagnosis, treatment assistance, palliative and supportive care, survivorship follow up care and rehabilitation, for all types and stages of cancer, and for both adults and children.
Likewise, the bill aims to ensure that there’s sufficient supply of essential cancer medicines and cancer control related vaccines, which should be made accessible and affordable.
The measure also gives the same rights and privileges to cancer patients and cancer survivors under the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.