Stressing that cancer remains the leading cause of death and disability in the country, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas has sought an additional P800 million for the cancer care and treatment budget of the Department of Health for 2022.
Vargas, chairman of the House Committee on Social Services, said his proposal would more than double the budget for the DOH Cancer, Supportive Care and Palliative Care Medicines Access Program (CSPMAP).
From P786 million, the CSPMAP allocation will now be P1.586 billion, if approved by the Lower House., Vargas, principal author of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA) or Republic Act No. 11215, said cancer, not COVID-19, is the leading killer disease in the country.
He disclosed that at least 157,000 new cancer cases are reported annually.
The QC lawmaker said the P756 million proposed budget for 2022 would only benefit some 26,000 cancer patients “partially or fully assisted for their expenses in medicines.” “With an additional P800 million budget for the 2022 CSPMAP, we can increase our target beneficiaries to about 60,000 patients or at least one-third of the cancer patients in the country,” he explained.
Vargas said several cancer care advocates and families of cancer victims have sought his help in increasing the 2022 budget for cancer care.
“While they appreciate that cancer care and treatment has been given a budget this year, their concern is that it would not be enough considering the current economic situation caused by the pandemic,” he stated.
Family members of cancer patients have either lost their jobs or saw their incomes diminished since last year, he said.
“As things stand, they are already experiencing difficulties making ends meet, and the assistance provided by government through this program is all they can depend on,” he added.
Vargas recalled that previously, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and then Deputy Speaker Rep. Paolo Duterte had allocated funds for cancer care and treatment after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) removed the allocation sought by the DOH in the 2021 budget.
“The Speaker and Rep. Duterte gave hope to cancer patients and their families when they moved to provide funding for cancer care and treatment in the 2021 budget,” he said.