MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, a measure that aims to prevent cancer cases and improve cancer survivorship among Filipinos by scaling up essential programs and increasing investments that battle cancer.
Signed by the President on Feb. 14 and released by the Palace on Tuesday, Republic Act 11215, creates the National Integrated Cancer Control Program which shall serve as the framework for all cancer-related activities of the government.
According to Sen. JV Ejercito, one of the authors and sponsors of the law, cancer is the 3rd leading cause of adult death and 4th in child mortality.
The Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates of the Department of Health said there are up to 8 deaths per day for childhood cancer and up to 11 new cases and 7 deaths every hour for adult cancer in the Philippines.
There are approximately 110,000 new cancer cases and over 66,000 cancer deaths each year.
The program aims to decrease the overall mortality and impact of all adult and childhood cancer, lessen incidence of preventable cancer in adults and children, and prevent cancer recurrence, metastasis, and secondary cancer among survivors and people living with cancer.
It also 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 law forms a National Integrated Cancer Control Council which shall act as the policy making, planning and coordinating body on cancer control, attached to the health department.
It also mandates the creation of the Philippine Cancer Center, which shall promote and encourage cancer research, provide training to medical professionals, and assist universities, hospitals, and research institutions on cancer research.
The law also calls on the health department to intensify its cancer awareness campaign and provide the latest and evidence-based information for the prevention and treatment of cancer.
“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,” the law reads.
A cancer assistance fund is also created under the law. The health department shall manage the fund and may solicit and receive donations.
Under the law, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation shall expand its benefit packages to include primary care screening, detection, diagnosis, treatment assistance, supportive care, survivorship follow-up care rehabilitation, and end-of-life care, for all types and stages of cancer in both adults and children.
A Cancer Control Policy shall also be established in every workplace and form part of employee benefits in the formal sector covering the entire cancer continuum.
The Insurance Commission shall mandate health maintenance organizations to cover genetic counseling and testing, cancer screening, diagnostics, and palliative care as well as certain therapeutics of all member employees. Employees in the informal sector will be prioritized in the cancer control packages of PhilHealth, while those in the formal sector shall be offered cost-sharing PhilHealth benefit packages.
Below is the full copy of the law: