Coinciding with the observance of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Senator Risa Hontiveros expressed alarm over the non-allocation of funds for the procurement of cancer medicines in the proposed 2018 National Government budget.
Hontiveros, who is the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women and Vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Health, said that the budget for the procurement of breast cancer medicines in 2017 is around P97 million. However for 2018, she said that there is none.
The legislator also said that the P97 million is just for breast cancer medicines. In the 2017 budget, a total of P378 million was allocated for the Department of Health’s (DOH) all cancer medicine access program: P150 million for colon and prostate, P97 million for breast cancer and P131 million for childhood cancers. The lawmaker said that this is the amount that was not included in the 2018 budget.
“This is unacceptable. Our country ranked the highest in a list of 197 countries with the most number of cases of breast cancer, yet we have zero allocations for breast cancer medicines? How can the government convince those suffering from cancer that they can overcome this disease if it cannot provide the public access to needed medicines?” the lady senator lamented.
Hontiveros said that she has already raised this concern to the DOH. “I’ve already raised this matter with the health department. When the Senate resumes its deliberations of the 2018 budget, I will immediately move for the restoration of the said funds and push for the expansion of the program in terms of the volume of procured medicines and in terms of including other types of cancer medicines,” she said.
“We cannot afford to pass a national budget that has no allocation to procure medicines for cancer, particularly breast cancer. The government’s commitment to fight this disease must be reflected in a real and substantial fiscal allocation. The government must put its money where its mouth is,” Hontiveros stressed.
On Monday, she joined the ICanServe Foundation, the Philippine Cancer Society and Akbayan Women in an event aimed to raise awareness on breast cancer and the need for women to have equal access to information, screening, medicine and different treatments.
In 2016, according to the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, the Philippines ranked highest among a list of 197 countries with the most number of cases of breast cancer.