More benefits for patients under integrated cancer law: DOH

The public could expect extensive cancer care services with the recent enactment of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, an official of the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

“Right now, palalawigin natin dahil libre ang gamot natin sa (we will expand [the benefits] because medicines are free for) early stages of cancer, colorectal cancer, breast, also acute lymphocitic leukemia in children,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a press briefing.

On February 14, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 11215 or the National Integrated Cancer Control Act which institutionalizes a “national integrated” program to control cancer.

Under the new law, the DOH is tasked to provide early and sufficient access to cancer medicines and “ensure highest possible chance of survival among people with cancer”.

The DOH and local government units are expected to strengthen the capabilities of public health care systems and facilities in dealing with cancer.

“Binabayaran ng DOH ang gamot at ibinibigay nang libre at sa ibabaw nito ang Philhealth ay may Z Benefit Package kung saan binabayaran ang mga serbisyo para sa (The DOH pays for the medicines and we give them for free and on top of this Philhealth has Z Benefit Package which pays the services for) prostate cancer, colorectal cancer,” Duque said.

The new law created the Cancer Assistance Fund, which will support the cancer medicine and assistance treatment program.

The DOH is also mandated under the new law to provide subsidies and scholarships for the training of oncology professionals.

“Kailangan talaga madagdagan ng pondo ang ating cancer care services lalo na sa ilalim ng batas may integration sa cancer care sa mgahospitals natin ibig sabihin may (There should really be additional funds for our cancer care services especially under the law there is integration in cancer care in hospitals meaning there is) specific line item budget to provide the cancer services,” Duque said.

Cancer has been the third highest cause of death among Filipinos since 2004, Philippine Statistics Authority records show. (PNA)