House inquiry on use of gov't cancer care funds sought as daily deaths alarm Salo

Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo has filed a House resolution (HR) calling for an investigation by the lower chamber on the use of the government’s assistance funds for cancer care.

Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo

his, after the veteran solon and House leader was alarmed by reports that an average of 252 cancer patients have been dying daily.

Salo raised the red flag on the budgets for the Cancer and Supportive-Palliative Medicines Access Program (CSPMAP) and the Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF) under the National Integrated Cancer Control Program (NICCA), citing 2020 reports of over 153,000 new cancer cases and over 92,000 cancer deaths – or some 252 deaths every day – and 354,398 prevalent cases over five years (2014 to 2019).

Salo's HR No. 252 tasks the House Committee on Health to undertake such inquiry.

He noted that “The cancer burden is increasing in the Philippines, and it is alarming given the fact that treatment regimens for cancer are costly and puts Filipinos at risk of financial catastrophe.”

A 2012 study explored the economic impact of a cancer diagnosis in Filipino families and found that more than 40 percent of the families experienced financial toxicity, with about 25 percent falling in the lowest income bracket.

Pursuant to the 2022 General Appropriation Act (GAA), ₱786,956,000 has been allocated for the CSPMAP and ₱529,200,000 for the CAF, as defined under section 35 of Republic Act (RA) No. 11215 or the NICCA.

“However,” Salo noted, “with only four months remaining in 2022, the CSPMAP and CAF funds have yet to be utilized.”

“These funds could have gone a long way in giving access to care and treatment for our countrymen afflicted with cancer, as well as their families who share in the financial burden of cancer treatment. We thus urgently need to inquire on the cause of unnecessary delays in the use of the CSPMAP and CAF funds,” stressed the congressman, who chairs the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs.

“The main purpose of the NICCA is to greatly reduce mortality from preventable and treatable cancers and lessen out-of-pocket expenditures of patients and their families. If the funds for this program are not utilized, the law would be useless, and more lives will be put at risk," he said.

“As it is, even if just one household member is diagnosed with cancer, the entire family is at risk of financial ruin. Thus, the government must be proactive and ensure the faithful implementation of our laws designed to curb the rising cases of, and deaths from, cancer in the country, and to extend financial assistance to patients and their families,” Salo concluded.