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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Committee approves bill institutionalizing a National Integrated Cancer Control Program
02 September 2018 08:50:01 AM

The House Committee on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City) recently approved a substitute bill seeking to institutionalize a National Integrated Cancer Control Program which shall serve as the framework for all cancer related activities of the government.

The bill, principally authored by Rep. Geraldine Roman (1st District, Bataan), consolidated 21 bills, one resolution and one privilege speech.

The committee approved the bill after amending its Section 18 pertaining to the establishment of a Cancer Assistance Fund. The amended section provides that “There is hereby established a Cancer Assistance Fund to support a Cancer Medicine and Treatment Assistance Program. The DOH shall manage the fund in accordance with the existing budgeting, accounting and auditing rules and regulations, and shall make a quarterly report to the Office of the President and Congress on the disbursement of the fund.”

The amendment further provides that “The DOH may solicit and receive donations which shall form part of the fund, and such donations shall be exempt from income or donor’s tax and all other taxes, fees or charges imposed by the government. Likewise, fundraising activities may be conducted by the National Integrated Cancer Advisory Council, the proceeds of which shall accrue to the fund.”

Committee on Health Chairperson Angelina Tan (4th Distrct, Quezon) sponsored the bill during the hearing which was attended by anti-cancer advocates and cancer survivors who hailed the eventual approval of the bill.

The bill is premised on the policy of the State recognizing cancer as one of the leading causes of death in the country. The State shall endeavor to improve cancer survivorship by scaling up essential programs and increasing investments for robust prevention of cancer, better screening, prompt and accurate diagnosis, responsive palliative care and pain management, timely and optimal treatment, effective survivorship care and late effects management, and rehabilitation.

The State shall likewise make cancer treatment and care more equitable and affordable for all, especially to the underprivileged, poor and marginalized Filipinos.

To achieve these, the bill provides for the establishment of the National Integrated Cancer Control Program that shall serve as the framework for all cancer related activities of the government.

Among the objectives of the National Integrated Cancer Control Program are : 1) decrease the overall mortality and impact of all adult and childhood cancer; 2) lessen the incidence of preventable cancer in adults and children; 3) prevent cancer recurrence and secondary cancer among cancer survivors and patients; 4) provide timely access to optimal cancer treatment and care for all cancer patients; 5) make cancer treatment and care more affordable and accessible; and 6) support the recovery and reintegration to society of cancer survivors; and improve the experience of cancer treatment and care of patients and families.

The bill also provides for the creation of the National Integrated Cancer Advisory Council which shall provide technical guidance and support, and oversee the implementation of th Act.

The Council shall be composed of the following: Secretary of Health or a designated representative, not lower than Assistant Secretary, as chairperson in an ex office capacity; Vice Chairperson to be elected by non-ex officio members; ex-officio members of the Board, namely 1) the Director-General of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or a designated representative, 2) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) or a designated representative 3) Secretaries of the Departments of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Labor and Employment (DOLE), Science and Technology (DOST), Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), or their designated representatives.

Other members of the Council shall be three distinguished medical doctors, nurses or researchers who must be citizens and residents of the Philippines and two representatives from cancer-focused patient support organizations and advocacy networks.

The Council shall utilize the services and facilities of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau under the Department of Health (DOH) as the Secretariat of the Board. The non-ex officio members may receive honoraria in accordance with the existing laws, rules and regulations.

The Council shall, as necessary, create experts’ groups or technical working groups to assist the DOH undertake key tasks such as developing the National Integrated Cancer Control roadmap with annual targets, priorities and performance benchmarks for the effective institutionalization of integrated cancer control strategies, policies, programs and services in the national and local health care systems.

To ensure effective implementation of the Act, the personnel complement for the Cancer Program in the DOH Disease Prevention and Control Bureau shall be increased. A Director for Cancer Control shall be designated to provide operational leadership and ensure effective and sustainable implementation of the National Integrated Cancer Control Program.

The bill also provides for 1) quality health care systems; 2) creation of cancer care centers; 3) cancer awareness; 4) Oncology-related academic curriculum ; 5) cancer awareness campaign; 6) health education and promotion in schools, colleges and universities, workplace, communities ; 7) affordable cancer care and treatment; 8) access to essential medicines; 9)supportive environment for persons with cancer and cancer survivors; 10) cancer registry and monitoring system; and 11) penalties for unlawful acts.

The bill is also authored by Tan, Reps. Estrellita Suansing, Alfred Vargas, Sol Aragones, Maximo Rodriguez Jr., Winston Castelo, Evelina Escudero, Maria Vida Bravo, Gary Alejano, Lianda Bolilia, Wes Gatchalian, Jericho Jonas Nograles, Cristina Roa-Puno, Bernadette Herrera-Dy, Scott Davies Lanete, M.D., Victor Yap, and Edward Vera Perez Maceda, among others. | Rowena B. Bundang