The Cancer Coalition Philippines (CCPh) has recently launched a signature campaign in June—appealing to the Congress to enact a law that will expand efforts covering the entire cancer spectrum including prevention, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and palliative care.

CCPh is a national coalition of cancer patients, support organisations, healthcare providers, and cancer advocates—aiming to eliminate barriers of cancer care by institutionalising cancer-related government policies into law.

A comprehensive national cancer plan in the Philippines is long overdue, expressed Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, CCPh co-chair. CCPh spokesperson Paul Perez echoed this sentiment, saying that a bill on cancer has already been filed last year by Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas. “Unfortunately, it was never scheduled for committee hearings,” eleborated Perez.

Here, we list down the top three reasons why there is a pressing need for the Philippines to pass an Integrated National Cancer Act.

1. Cancer is the second leading cause of death among Filipinos adults

The number of cancer incidence in the Philippines is increasing over the years. According to the facts presented by the CCPh, 189 out of 100,000 Filipinos are afflicted with cancer yearly; whilst 3,900 children are diagnosed with cancer every year. And while these numbers are worrisome, experts are saying that due to many cancer incidences that remain uncounted, unrecorded and unreported, the actual cancer burden and mortality in the Philippines is in fact higher than what is being reported.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recently stated in a report that one in every ten registered deaths in the country is attributable to cancer. Filipino women are at greater risk as incidences of breast cancer, cervical cancer and ovarian cancer doubled in the recent years. For breast cancer, the Philippines has the lowest survival mortality to incidence ratio (.58) compared to other Asian countries.

2. Cancer pushes Filipino families further down into poverty

The financial burden that comes with cancer treatment can be overwhelming. Public healthcare spending in the country allotted to treat and prevent cancer has remained low. In fact, about 57% of healthcare spending for cancer is being shelled out by patients—with only 32% is contributed by the public sector assistance.

The PhilippinE CostS in Oncology (PESO) Study showed that Filipino cancer patients either suffer financial catastrophe or die within a year of diagnosis due to the discontinuance and abandonment of treatment.

“Abandonment or discontinuance of treatment can be as high as 75% while average treatment compliance is at a low 21%,” CCPh stated in a press release. “These conditions are most observed among the poor marginalised sectors, but occur even among the so-called middle class.”

3. The numbers are only going to go up

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), by 2030, incidence of cancer is projected to increase to as high as 80% in low resource countries like the Philippines.

In their petition to institutionalise an Integrated National Cancer Act, CCPh asks the Philippine Congress law provisions that will have the following integral elements:
  • Strengthening of Cancer Care Infrastructure and Service Delivery Networks
  • Strengthening the capacity of the Human Resources for Health in Cancer Care
  • Strengthening the FDA to ensure the safety, quality, and efficacy of medicines, biologics, and other health technologies
  • Institutionalising Funding and Social Protection Mechanisms for Cancer Patients, Survivors, Caregivers, and their Families
  • Establishment of a National Cancer Registry and Surveillance System and Evidence Generation
  • National and regional research and demonstration projects shall be conducted to generate evidence to improve policies and the implementation of the Integrated Philippine Cancer Control and Management Program (IPCCMP)
  • Strengthening Health Promotion, Information, and Education Programs. Health promotion and education activities shall be strengthened in schools and learning institutions, work places, communities, and among vulnerable, at-risk, and disadvantaged populations
  • Establishing National Cancer Screening Programs
To sign the petition by the Cancer Coalition Philippines, please go to MIMS

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