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National Integrated Cancer Control Act: How to access Cancer Assistance Fund and Malasakit Center? (Part 2) | Philstar.com
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Health And Family

National Integrated Cancer Control Act: How to access Cancer Assistance Fund and Malasakit Center? (Part 2)

BROAD CAST - Jing Castañeda - Philstar.com
National Integrated Cancer Control Act: How to access Cancer Assistance Fund and Malasakit Center? (Part 2)
With the hardworking medical team in-charge of taking care of the cancer patients in East Avenue Medical Center.

We live in a world where anyone could get badly sick, but not everyone can get treated due to myriad of factors that relates to life, opportunity, and privilege. Being sick is a norm, but getting better becomes a privilege. As a journalist who covers health issues, I’ve seen how hard it is for poor people to be sick. Some of them choose to ignore and just endure the pain they feel because they’re much more afraid of what they think is a bigger burden — costly treatment and medicines. 
 
Cancer is one of those diseases that requires continuous check-ups and procedures to survive.

During one of my Pamilya Talk cancer episodes entitled “Okay Doc: Pag-asa sa NICCA,” I visited the tumor clinic in East Avenue Medical Center and was able to interact with the cancer patients receiving treatment. The atmosphere surrounding the clinic was not the one I was expecting to witness. Rather than seeing gloomy faces, I was welcomed with warm smiles and hearty laughter from cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Their smiles and banters are so sincere you can’t even tell if they’re having a hard time.

With Nanay Lhee Santos, one of the cancer patients in East Avenue Medical Center who receive their chemotherapy treatment for free with the help of the Cancer Assistance Fund.

I sat down with one of the patients, Lhee Santos, 63 years old who has bone and breast cancer. I asked how she was feeling after her scheduled treatment that day, and she told me that the pain is almost bearable. Fortunately, she receives free cancer treatment with the help of the Cancer Assistance Fund and the Malasakit Center. “Nilalakad namin sa Malasakit Center…Malaking bagay kasi wala akong binabayaran. Magkano rin kapag nagpapa-chemo, ‘di ba mahal?” Lhee Santos mentioned. 

Cancer Assistance Fund

The government has found a way to provide people with solutions that’ll help them with their burden of paying for treatments, and thus, give anyone and everyone an equal opportunity to better health care. Cancer patients and even survivors can now benefit from the Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF) through Section 20 of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA) or RA 11215. It is within the provisions of this law that a cancer patient is entitled to have free financial assistance for screening tests, diagnosis, specialized treatments, palliative care, and medicines. Through this law, cancer patients, survivors, and their families can begin to hope for longer lives. 

How to access the Cancer Assistance Fund? 

Cancer patients can proceed to these hospitals to avail of the Cancer Assistance Fund.

STEP 1: Patients must go to hospitals with Cancer Assistance Funds (CAF). 
As of 2022, 31 hospitals around the Philippines have access to the CAF for patients who will apply. You must be a registered cancer patient in the hospital. 

STEP 2: Get an original request and clinical abstract from your doctor 

STEP 3: Bring the request to the respective department where your treatment/procedure will be done and get the order of payment. 

STEP 4: Proceed to the social service department of the hospital and bring the following requirements: 

  • Original request/prescription from the doctor
  • Medical certificate/Clinical Abstract
  • Order of payment for the needed procedures: X-ray, diagnostics, and other laboratory procedures

STEP 5: The Social Service Department will make a social case study report through the social worker who will assess if the patient-applicant is eligible for financial assistance.

STEP 6: Once approved by the Social Service Department, patient-applicant can now continue with the procedure. 

Malasakit Center

Malasakit Center at East Avenue Medical Center.

Malasakit Center is a “one-stop shop” facility of different government agencies which give financial aid to Filipinos, like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and PhilHealth. 

Should a cancer patient need an extra hand for financial aid, he/she can proceed to the Malasakit Center in the government hospital and bring the following requirements: 

  • Referral/Social Case study abstract from the hospital
  • Original request/prescription from the doctor
  • Medical certificate/Clinical Abstract
  • Order of payment for the needed procedures: X-ray, diagnostics, and other laboratory procedures

A certificate of indigency from the barangay is not required in applying for assistance from the Malasakit Center given that the patient has already a referral or social case study abstract. 

P3,000 up to a maximum of P5,000 in cash can be given to a patient for help in his/her transportation, food, and medicine costs, aside from the aid allocated for diagnostic procedures and confinement. A guarantee letter amounting to a maximum of P150,000.00 can also be given to a patient depending on the assessment from the Social Service Department.  

Cancer care for all  

Dr. Claire Soliman, head of TWG East Avenue Medical Center, explains that through NICCA, poor patients are able to access government funds for cancer care.

According to Dr. Claire Soliman (head of TWG East Avenue Medical Center), patients with breast cancer in their hospital used to be the only ones given free medical benefits for chemotherapy drugs.  But upon the arrival of NICCA, financial assistance expanded to patients with lung, colon, prostate, and other related types of cancers. Aside from chemotherapy, even diagnostic procedures needed like CT Scan, heart evaluations, and blood exams are shouldered by the Cancer Assistance Fund. “Many more cancer patients are treated through the help of NICCA,” Dr. Soliman proudly emphasized. 

NICCA is truly a big help to cancer patients, survivors, and their families. It is a blessing that we have assertive and reliable people like cancer coalition groups, healthcare workers, and lawmakers who continue to push for the full implementation of this law. The mission now is to let Filipinos be aware of this opportunity that awaits them. 

As many would say, “Cancer is only for the rich.” But with the existence of NICCA, I’d like to wholeheartedly believe that a patient’s access to treatment shouldn’t be based on the privileges he/she has in life.  The mere thought that we are all human beings who are entitled to equal rights to live should be enough reason to access proper treatment at all costs.

For more info, pls, watch my tiktok posts about NICCA and the Cancer Assistance Fund.
https://vt.tiktok.com/ZS8btk9UL/
https://vt.tiktok.com/ZS8btatF9/
https://vt.tiktok.com/ZS8btXr3R/

For further guidance, you may  also contact:

  • Malasakit Center hotlines at 8651 7800 local 1810 | 1811 | 2711. 
  • East Avenue Medical Center trunkline at +6329280611.
  • Philippine Cancer Society phone number, trunkline, Facebook, and website at +63 917 576 2909 | 02 87342126 | Philippine Cancer Society Inc. | pcsi@philcancer.org.Ph.
  • ICanServe Facebook at ICanServe Foundation Inc. 
  • Onconnect Gabay viber messenger and email at +63 917 593 6916 | onconnectgabay@gmail.com

 

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Watch Pamilya Talk on FacebookYouTube and Kumu (@JingCastaneda – 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m. Monday & Wednesday). You can also follow my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookYouTubeTiktokTwitter and Kumu.  Please share your stories or suggest topics at editorial@jingcastaneda.ph.

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