Crusade for democratizing cancer care: Hope Matters and the National Integrated Cancer Control Act

Published March 11, 2022, 3:14 PM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

Think about it, chances are high you’d know someone who succumbed to some form of cancer or is a cancer survivor. Whether it be a loved one, family member, friend, co-office worker, or acquaintance, there’ll be someone in your social network who’s had the dreaded big C. That’s just one of the facts of living today, and the prevalence of cancer and how it affects people across a broad socio-economic spectrum.

Cancer control, care, and treatment isn’t inexpensive. So if you’re relatively well-off, while it may be a drain on your financial resources, it’s still something you can avail of. But for those in the more challenged socio-economic demographics; treatment that’s privately funded may not even be an option.

In 2019, the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA) was signed into law. It’s a landmark piece of legislation that was designed to provide cancer patients with quality health care services, and provide their families with financial risk protection. But the unfortunate truth is that to this day, NICCA has not been fully implemented.

As part of its commitment to support the needs of cancer patients in this country, MSD Philippines, along with AstraZeneca, the Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), and Ayala Malls, mounted an event Thursday evening, March 10, at the Greenbelt 3 Lagoon Area.

Dr Gap Legaspi, PGH Director, with Mr. Beaver Tamesis Chairman Emeritus PHAP, and Teddy Padilla, Executive Director PHAP.

Hope Matters: Lighting the Path for Better Cancer Care brought together several personalities whose work or lives are affected by Cancer treatment. The aim was to fast track the implementation of NICCA, to commemorate lives lost to cancer, to enjoin government leaders to prioritize NICCA, and shed light on the disease and the courageous journey taken by those afflicted.

Of special interest is the full implementation of the following NICCA provisions:
1. The classification of cancer patients as PWDs.
2. Access to innovative therapy.
3. Provisions for mandatory cancer policies in the workplace.

It’s only by working together and making our voices heard that awareness on the importance of prevention, early detection, and the quality of life both among cancer patients and their families can be ramped up.

As a Prostate Cancer survivor myself, I’ve experienced first hand the prohibitive cost of diagnosis and treatment options. Without a medical insurance plan, I’d have been financially drained. So I can well imagine what others face. I was fortunate enough to have detected my cancer early. And yet, the financial resources needed were staggering.

Celebrity Marlo Mortel, whose mother passed away from Cancer, with Hope Matters host Jing Castaneda.

Hope Matters is a four day event at Greenbelt 3, and I can only hope and pray that it achieves its noble purpose.