âIntegrated Cancer  Law to benefit  poor patientsâ
Puno said the landmark law would integrate policies and programs for the prevention, detection, correct diagnosis and treatment of cancer. It will also cover palliative care, pain management and survivorship or end of life.
‘Integrated Cancer Law to benefit poor patients’
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - February 22, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Indigent cancer patients will now have some relief with the signing of the National Integrated Cancer Law, two administration lawmakers said yesterday. 

“For so long, our cancer patients and their loved ones have been carrying such a heavy burden,” said Antipolo Rep. Chiqui Roa-Puno, one of the authors of the bill, as she noted Republic Act 11215 could spell the difference between life and death for many Filipinos. 

She said this would alleviate the financial burden of cancer patients and their loved ones. 

Puno said the landmark law would integrate policies and programs for the prevention, detection, correct diagnosis and treatment of cancer. It will also cover palliative care, pain management and survivorship or end of life.

Philippine Statistics Authority records showed that cancer has been the third highest cause of death among Filipinos since 2004.

Since 2012, 189 out of every 100,000 Filipinos have been afflicted with cancer.

“Every day, 11 new cases of the Big C are recorded in the country. According to the Cancer Coalition of the Philippines (CCPh), cancer claims the lives of seven adults and eight children every hour,” Puno said.

Another administration lawmaker, Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy of Bagong Henerasyon party-list group, also a co-author of the measure, called on the Department of Health and the budget department to come up with adequate funding for its immediate implementation. 

The measure mandates the establishment of the Philippine Cancer Center under the control and supervision of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital. Regional cancer centers shall also be established nationwide.

The law also calls for the creation of a cancer registry and cancer centers throughout the country, to aid in government efforts to extend financial and other forms of assistance to cash-strapped cancer patients as well as to provide funds for cancer research.

The new anti-cancer law will boost government efforts to combat cancer and increase the chance of patients to overcome the disease, Sen. Sonny Angara said yesterday.

Angara thanked President Duterte for signing RA 11215 which will provide the framework for an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development, family-centered cancer control policies and programs, as well as interventions at all levels of the existing health care delivery system.

Free medicine

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that with the implementation of another new health care measure, the Universal Health Care (UHC) law, anti-diabetes and other so-called maintenance medications would be provided for free to all people needing them.

Duque said the law provides for full range of high quality health care services from preventive, curative to pallative at affordable cost.

“The signing of the UHC Act marks the beginning of a new chapter in the reform of the Philippine health care system. These include operationalizing primary health care and mainstreaming health promotion to protect people from disease,” Duque said at a press conference yesterday afternoon.

Duque said the P40-billion funding gap for the first-year implementation of the Universal Health Care Act has been significantly reduced by almost P2 billion after the Senate allotted an additional P18 billion, thus raising the available funding for UHC to P255.8 billion.

The poor and those from disadvantaged areas shall be prioritized in the implementation of the law.

But Duque urged the public not to expect to immediately enjoy the full benefits of the newly signed law.

“This is a work in progress. Just because this law was signed, it does not mean that you will already see (changes) like magic tomorrow,” Duque stressed.

Up to P100 billion is available this year for the implementation of the newly signed UHC law, the head of the House committee on health said yesterday.

Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, one of the authors of the law, said the funds would come from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. (Pagcor) and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

She said Congress is allocating P67.4 billion for PhilHealth, with Pagcor and PCSO contributing a large part of the remainder of the P100 billion needed for expanded health services.

She said another funding source UHC supporters are eyeing is the proposed increase in sin taxes.

She added that the law would actually require P270 billion when fully implemented in two to three years.

Under the law, PhilHealth is mandated to come up with a menu of expanded inpatient and outpatient health services it could offer to those presently covered by the UHC program.

Tan said the program is targeting an additional 16.5 million Filipinos. 

She said the expanded benefits include preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care for medical, dental, mental and emergency health services.

“In light of the massive resources required to push the UHC agenda, the program will rely heavily on public funding. Thus, annual allocations from the national government are critical for the program’s successful implementation,” she stressed.

Tan pointed out that it is with this in mind that she, her Senate counterpart Joseph Victor Ejercito and Sen. Manny Pacquiao have filed separate bills that seek to increase taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

“We have to generate a large part of the deficiency from increased sin taxes,” she said.

Tan and Pacquiao have proposed to increase cigarette levies from P32.50 to P60 per pack, while Ejercito wants taxes adjusted to P90.

However, the House committee on ways and means chaired by Estrellita Suansing of Nueva Ecija has recommended only a small adjustment of P2.50.

Tan and other supporters of expanded health care have expressed disappointment over the recommendation.

They are banking on Ejercito and Pacquiao to fight for a bigger tax increase when the proposed law is sent to the Senate.  – With Jess Diaz, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Mayen Jaymalin

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