MANILA – Deputy Speaker and Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar on Tuesday reiterated her call for the government to intensify its early detection programs, and promote easier access to preventive screening against breast cancer to save the lives of Filipino women.
“With the alarming growth of breast cancer cases in the Philippines, there is a need to strengthen dedicated programs against breast cancer, and to allocate adequate budgetary support for programs involving early detection in hospitals and at the local level,” Villar said in a statement.
Citing data from the World Health Organization, she noted that in 2020, there were 86,484 total cancer cases in the Philippines, of which 27,163 breast cancer cases.
She pointed out that in the same year, breast cancer claimed the lives of 9,926 Filipino women, making it the third most fatal type of cancer afflicting Filipinos, just behind lung and liver cancer.
The Philippines had the highest rate of breast cancer in Asia and the ninth highest in the world in 2019, with the disease often diagnosed already in advanced stages.
She said an estimated 70 percent of breast cancer cases also affect indigent women, making it more difficult for them to fight off the dreaded disease.
“There is a seeming absence of comprehensive screening programs especially in far-flung areas, thereby depriving women to seek immediate early screening or medical help,” Villar said.
In view of this, Villar has filed House Resolution No. 1023 urging the appropriate House Committees to look into the increasing number of breast cancer cases in the country with the intent of promoting early detection programs and increasing breast cancer awareness.
She also called on her colleagues to pass a separate measure seeking to establish a special assistance fund dedicated for cancer patients, particularly the indigents and underprivileged Filipinos who need all the support from the government.
In her House Bill No. 5686, or the Cancer Medicine and Treatment Fund for Filipinos, Villar seeks the institutionalization of a PHP10-billion fund to support needy Filipino families in the battle against cancer.
Under the measure, a cancer treatment program shall be established and administered by Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) through its accredited government hospitals in each congressional district.
The assistance shall be limited to indigent and underprivileged patients identified by state health insurer, in coordination with the Departments of Social Welfare and Development, Health and of the Interior and Local Government.
“Considering that one of the goals of the national economy is a more equitable distribution of opportunities and raising the quality of life for all, especially the underprivileged, it is high time that those who are less in life be given the lifeline to fight cancer despite their lack of resources,” Villar said. (PNA)