Senator Sonny Angara is pushing for the passage of a bill that seeks to make cancer treatment and care more equitable and affordable for all Filipinos.
“Cancer pushes Filipino families deeper into poverty. The costs of screening and treatment are catastrophic. Since social safety nets are limited, patients and their families are forced to use their hard-earned savings and assets for medical expenses. Some discontinue their treatment out of financial incapability,” said Angara in his sponsorship speech on Senate Bill 1570 or the National Integrated Cancer Control Act.
“Cancer pushes Filipino families deeper into poverty. The costs of screening and treatment are catastrophic.”
A 2016 Philippine Statistics Authority report showed that neoplasms or tumors–which are commonly associated with cancer–are the second leading cause of death for Filipinos, next only to heart ailments.
Every hour, at least four Filipinos die from cancer, according to the University of the Philippines-Institute of Human Genetics.
At least 4 Filipinos die from cancer every hour.
Studies further show that many of the preventable and premature deaths from cancer can be attributed to: low awareness of signs and symptoms; delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis; poor access to health facilities; limited health systems infrastructure for treatment and care; lack of trained health professionals for cancer-related services; among others.
The seasoned lawmaker lamented the country’s ill-preparedness to provide proper cancer care thus he stressed the need for an integrated cancer control and management program.
The veteran lawmaker’s Senate Bill 1570 provides for a Cancer Assistance Fund to support the medical and treatment assistance program for cancer patients.
It further seeks to expand Philhealth’s current benefits to include screening, detection, diagnosis, treatment assistance, palliative and supportive care, survivorship follow up care and rehabilitation, for all types and stages of cancer, and for both adults and children.
SB 1570 likewise aims to ensure that there’s sufficient supply of essential cancer medicines and cancer control related vaccines, which should be made accessible and affordable.
Cancer patients and cancer survivors will also be given the same rights and privileges under the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.
“We must afford every Filipino cancer patient with the highest possible chance of survival. We should also create a supportive environment for people living with cancer and cancer survivors, especially their families and careers, to reduce distress and ensure their well-being,” the senator said.