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Congress sets aside P620 million for 2021 cancer program

PHILIPPINE lawmakers have allotted P620 million for the government’s cancer control program for next year, according to its top leader.

The fund in next year’s P4.5-trillion national budget will be used for cancer prevention, treatment and medicines under the program supervised by the Department of Health (DOH), Speaker Lord Alan Q. Velasco said on Sunday.

“With this funding, the government can now provide cancer patients with better access to more responsive and affordable health care services,” he said in a statement.

This budget would let the government enforce Republic Act 11215 or the National Integrated Cancer Control Act of 2019.

The measure sets up a National Integrated Cancer Control Program, which serves as the framework for all cancer-related activities of the government.

The program will provide timely access to optimal cancer treatment and care for all cancer patients, make treatment and care more affordable and accessible, and support the recovery and reintegration to society of cancer survivors.

About 110,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed annually in the Philippines, Mr. Velasco said, citing a study by the Health department.

The cancer budget for next year would reduce deaths especially among poor patients, he said.

The congressman said the high cost of cancer diagnosis and treatment has led many people to struggle financially. “Certainly, the economic burden of cancer care and treatment is overwhelming and it has the potential to drive Filipino families deeper into poverty.”

A breast ultrasound costs as much as P3,000, while a colonoscopy costs as much as P14,000, Mr. Velasco said, citing a study by the Cancer Coalition Philippines.

“Depending on the type of cancer, the chemotherapy cost per session can range from P20,000 to P120,000 or more,” he added. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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