Velasco vows to ensure funding for Cancer Control Act

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    SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco yesterday vowed to ensure funding for the implementation of Republic Act 11215 or the National Integrated Cancer Control (NICC) Act of 2019 by bringing it up in the bicameral level when congressmen and senators meet to iron out their differing versions of the P4.5 trillion proposed national budget for 2021.

    “The importance of this law and its full implementation cannot be overstated. We have to make sure that it is sufficiently funded so it could effectively serve its purpose of strengthening government efforts to combat cancer and increasing the fighting chance of patients to overcome the disease,” Velasco said.

    Velasco shared the sentiments of Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte, who earlier underscored the need for Congress to ensure the NICC law is adequately funded, underscoring the need to ensure that treatment and care will be more “equitable and affordable for all, especially for the underprivileged, poor and marginalized.”

    The younger Duterte, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor and now a breast cancer advocate, cited the need to “prioritize the needs of our fellow countrymen specially those who don’t have enough income or capabilities to survive their illnesses.”

    “My Mom is (a) cancer survivor. Diagnosed in 2016 and successfully recovered more than a year after treatment and long-term survivorship transitions. It is our duty to provide help to every fellow citizens to our best. Give them a second chance to live,” said the chairman of the House committee on accounts.

    Citing a study conducted by the University of the Philippines Institute of Human Genetics, Velasco said that 189 of every 100,000 Filipinos are afflicted with cancer while 96 cancer patients die every day. He said the high cost of cancer diagnosis and treatment could push even high-income families to sudden financial struggle.

    According to the Cancer Coalition Philippines, a breast ultrasound—which is but one of many tests for breast cancer—could range from P600 to as high as P3,000 depending on the hospital. A colonoscopy could cost from P1,500 to around P14,000, exclusive of professional fees.

    Depending on the type of cancer, chemotherapy cost per session can range from P20,000 to P120,000 or more.

    “Certainly, the economic burden of cancer care and treatment is overwhelming and it has the potential to drive Filipino families deeper into poverty,” Velasco said.

    The NICC Act, which was signed into law by President Duterte in February last year, establishes a National Integrated Cancer Control Program which would serve as the framework for all cancer-related activities of the government.

    The program aims to decrease the overall mortality and impact of all adult and childhood cancer; lessen the incidence of preventable cancer in adults and children; and prevent cancer recurrence, metastasis and secondary cancer among survivors and people living with cancer.