WE DID IT! National Integrated Cancer Control Act is Approved!

Cancer Coalition Philippines logoContributed by Rod Padua / President, Touched By Max PHILIPPINES

In a country of 104 million, there are approximately 141,021 new cancer cases in the Philippines and over 86,337 cancer deaths in 2018 alone, according to a report of GLOBOCAN. This translates to 16 adults diagnosed with cancer every hour, with around 10 adults succumbing to the disease. In terms of childhood cancer, 11 Filipino children are diagnosed with cancer every hour, whilst eight children die. So dreadful is the prevalence of cancer that the problem is overwhelming.

The National Integrated Cancer Control Act, the main advocacy of Cancer Coalition Philippines, was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte on Valentines Day 2019. The first of its kind in Southeast Asia, this landmark law seeks to provide timely access to optimal cancer treatment and care for all patients, make cancer treatment and care more affordable and accessible, improve the experience of cancer treatment and care of patients and families, support the recovery and reintegration to society of cancer survivors, and eliminate various forms of burden on patients, people living with cancer, survivors and their families.

The program targets to decrease the mortality rate and impact of all adult and childhood cancers, minimize incidences of preventable cancer, cancer recurrence, metastasis, and secondary cancer among survivors and people living with cancer. The law necessitates a National Integrated Cancer Control Council as the policy making body that will set the intended standards. The Council shall also ensure an environment for cancer research by providing training and other logistics to medical professionals, universities, hospitals, and research institutions personnel.

The Department of Health is tasked to intensify its cancer awareness campaign and provide the latest and evidence-based information for the prevention and treatment of cancer. As such, it is expected that advocacy groups like Touched By Max, Inc., as a member of the Coalition, will be called upon to once again be an active partner in awareness activities for GIST. The Coalition intends to establish a Cancer Assistance Fund to support cancer medicine and treatment assistance programs.

The law reads: “The awareness campaign must increase cancer literacy and understanding of risk factors associated with cancer, dispel myths and misconceptions about cancer, and reduce the anxiety, fear, distress, and uncertainty related to cancer.”

Docketed as a priority as early as 2016, the Coalition crafted the Act and tirelessly pressed lawmakers for the passage of the Act in both Houses of Congress, until it was signed by the President himself. In terms of advocacy, it is assumed that more than 17,700 petitioners at www.change.org was a major factor for the Government to take notice of the singular voice for change.

The Board of Trustees of Cancer Coalition Philippines is made up of Paul Perez, founder of Project Brave Kids, President; Kara Magnasoc-Alikpala, co-founder of ICANSERVE Foundation, Vice-President for Internal Affairs; Carmen Auste, founder of Cancer Warriors, Vice-President for External Affairs; Executive Director Rachel Rosario of Philippine Cancer Society, Secretary; Executive Director Olive Calasanz of Carwell Foundation, Treasurer; Romi Mercaida of Philippine Cancer Society, Dr. Ramon Severino, Philippine Society of Oncologists, and Dr. Claire Soliman, Philippine Society of Medical Oncologists, Members. They either are cancer survivors, or have relatives who had the Big C.