A lifeline for poor cancer patients and their families.
That’s how Deputy Speaker and Las Piñas City lone district Rep. Camille Villar described her measure, House Bill (HB) No.5686, which she filed in the current 19th Congress.
If enacted, the bill would institutionalize a P10-billion fund to support needy Filipino families in their battle against cancer, which is a lengthy and costly battle to say the least.
In filing HB No.5686, Villar recognized that cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the Philippines. She noted that fighting the dreaded disease can be draining for the Filipino families’ finances, especially for indigents and underprivileged.
“It is high time that those who are less in life be given the lifeline to fight the cancer disease despite their lack of resources,” she said.
Chemotherapy for cancer patients may cost about P100,000 per session. The cost of treatment by radiation, or even examination by MRI or magnetic resonance imaging, “is burdensome even to middle-income patients, and often beyond the reach of the poor,” she added.
“This is why cancer has gained a reputation as the disease for the rich. The painful truth is that it can afflict anybody, regardless of economic status,” Villar noted.
The incidence and mortality rate of cancer in the Philippines has been increasing in the past decades, with 189 of every 100,000 are affected by cancer, according to latest record from the Health department.
Also, four Filipinos die of cancer every hours, or 96 patients every day. “This trend is expected to continue if organized and sustained specialized care and preventive measures against cancer are not initiated,” the House leader said.
Under the bill, a P10-billion cancer treatment program shall be established and administered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth through its accredited government hospitals in each congressional district in the country.
The assistance shall be limited to indigent and underprivileged patients identified by state health insurer, in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
A total of P529.2 million has been allocated for the cancer assistance fund under the current 2022 national budget.