|Speaker: Dr. Mon Severino|
If you hear the word CANCER the initial reaction of the people are scared and very worried. Last November 25, 2016, the Cancer Coalition Philippines (CCPh), a group of likeminded experts, key opinion leaders, doctors, patients, and advocates, officially launched the CCPh partnership and commitment to push for national cancer care with an event entitled #startwithCAN. The event introduced the CCPh stakeholders and highlighted the cancer plight in the country.
The Cancer Coalition of the Philippines believes in eliminating the barriers to cancer care to put a stop to suffering and death due to cancer. The Coalition aims to achieve this by institutionalizing cancer-related government policies into law or Cancer Act, and by increasing the amount and predictability of financial support.
One out of every 1,800 Filipinos is diagnosed with cancer every year. Since 2004, cancers have been the third leading cause of death following cardiovascular disease. Between 2005 and 2009, the Department of Health reports that 44,627 people died of cancer, amounting to a mortality radio of 52 per 100,000 Filipinos.By 2030, the incidence rate of cancers in developing countries is expected to have grown by 85% from 2012.
Incidence continues to rise and most Filipinos do not have the necessary means to get properly diagnosed nor to treat and fight the disease. A cancer study in the country shows a significant percentage of Filipinos suffer from financial ruin or die within a year of diagnosis due to lack of funds, support, and access to traditional and innovative types of medication. The cancer burden in the country has become overwhelming and Filipinos are in dire need of a consolidated comprehensive cancer plan.
Against all odds
Cancer is a devastating disease and it affects not only the patients,but also everyone around them. Studies have shown that the effect the disease has on both a patient and their family and loved ones is immense. The financial burden alone is alreadyoverwhelming. In the Philippines, out-of-pocket health expenditure is almost always higher than annual family income. These expenses include hospital stay, medicine, and other costs such as medical supplies, food, and transportation. Cancer costs billions of pesos as well as loved ones and family members.
With the rising incidence of cancer, it will only be a matter of time before the disease begins to strain a larger margin of society and the economy with loss of productivity for both patients and immediate caregivers. A national cancer act is imperative. One that is inclusive of programs such as accessible and affordable screening to catch cancer earlier, providing a better safety net for cancer patients who are wage earners, a significant increase in reimbursements for cancers, access to all types of cancer treatment and medication, support for cancer patient funding agencies such as PCSO, and cancer post-hospitalization benefits. Only if cancer if addressed in such a comprehensive manner can we truly hope to see a decrease in incidence and an increase in survivorship.
Of the leading causes of cancer in the Philippines – breast, lung, liver, colon-rectal, and cervix remain the top sites. Three are preventable (lung, liver, cervix) and the other two (breast, colon-rectal) can be cured if detected early enough. Though cancer awareness has grown, this has not successfully translated into decreased incidence. Over the years cancer patients, loved ones, doctors, and the community continue the battle against dreaded disease.
Today, Filipino families living with cancer are receiving inadequate support from their healthcare insurance, local government units, and the Department of Health. These government agencies need more resources to be truly responsive to patients’ needs. Through the envisioned Cancer Act, agencies will get a much-needed boost to the benefit to all Filipino cancer patients.
At the end of the day, the solution to the cancer plight in the country will not come from one source. Everyone has a role to play in improving the quality and affordability of services and treatments.Stakeholders include patients, families, patient organizations, medical societies, government health insurance, local government units and the Department of Health. If everyone works together, cancer patients in the country can get the help they truly need.
A Cancer Act Can Save Live. Follow their facebook: www.facebook.com/CancerCoalitionPH/