2nd ‘Cancer Conversations’ series: Enhancing cancer care amid Covid-19 pandemic and beyond

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    The Cancer Coalition Philippines (CCPh), members of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), as well as the Department of Health (DOH), joined hands to inspire action for a cancer-free future through a series of online forums aimed at mapping the path forward to strengthen cancer control in the Philippines.

    The first of the series, “Cancer Conversations: Navigating Cancer with Patients,” centered on discussions on the plight of cancer patients and their families during the pandemic, and how they could access crucial information, funding and healthcare. The forum also highlighted the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA).

    The second part of the series, “Cancer Conversations: From Policy to Meaningful Action,” takes up policies and programs under NICCA that will help address gaps in the current continuum of cancer care, help better facilitate cancer treatment, and eliminate the various challenges on patients, survivors, and their families.

    “The National Integrated Cancer Control Act is a milestone for all cancer patients and their families. Major progress has been made, but there are also areas that require our concerted action,” CCPh President and Project: Brave Kids founder Mr. Paul Perez remarked.

    According to Mr. Perez, cancer screening, care and treatment has been disrupted mainly due to fears of COVID-19 exposure.

    The CCPh is composed of I Can Serve Foundation, Philippine Cancer Society, Cancer Warriors Foundation, Philippine Society of Oncologists, Project: Brave Kids, Carewell Community Foundation, and the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology.

    Under the NICCA DOH may also solicit and receive donations to augment funding for cancer. It also required PhilHealth to expand benefit packages for cancer.

    The law mandates the establishment of comprehensive specialty cancer centers to make diagnosis and treatment more accessible to all Filipinos.

    “Long before the pandemic, cancer patients and their families have always had a lot of unmet needs. The pandemic exacerbated this desperation. There is less access, less funding,” said Ms Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, CCPh Vice President and founding president of ICanServe Foundation.

    Ms Chiqui Roa-Puno will moderate the forum coming from her advocacy and experience as one of the principal authors, and sponsor of the NICCA.

    The forum will be composed of three sessions.