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DELIVER THE PROMISE OF NICCA NOW – Cancer Coalition of the Philippines

Hope From Within is one with the Cancer Coalition of the Philippines and the whole cancer community in urging our legislators to ensure that the Cancer Law gets the line budget allocation it deserves.

Let’s continue to provide support for cancer patients, survivors, and their families.

AN URGENT APPEAL: DELIVER THE PROMISE OF NICCA NOW

31 August 2021

When the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA: RA 11215 ) was signed into law on February 14, 2019, cancer patients, survivors, and their families, were jubilant and hopeful. They believed in the promise of the

NICCA: strengthening health system capacities for better care and increased survivorship, increasing investments for essential programs and services for cancer patients, and people living with cancer, making funds available to assist patients in gaining timely access to required services throughout the entire cancer care continuum ( from screening, diagnosis to rehabilitation/reintegration).

Thus, it is disconcerting and disappointing, that the proposed 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP) of the Department of Health (DOH) has failed to include the mandated line items on the National Integrated Cancer Control Program and the Cancer Assistance Fund. This is a direct violation of the provision, as stated in Republic Act No. 11215, or the NICCA. It also contravenes Rule X, Sec. 35 (Appropriations) of the IRR, “… the amount allocated for the National Integrated Cancer Control Program, including maintenance and other operating expenses of the National Integrated Cancer Control Program and the Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF), should be in the National Expenditure Program as basis for the General Appropriations Act.”

The consolidation of the Cancer Control budget in the NCD budget, for the proposed 2022 National Expenditure Program of the DOH, makes a travesty of the NICCA mandate and its explicit intent. Further, the absence of a separate fund for the CAF, at a time when patients need it most, is alarming and life-threatening to cancer patients, already struggling with diminished assistance from PCSO, DSWD, Malasakit and non-government charity organizations.

Since the pandemic has begun, cancer patients have suffered disruptions and long delays in access to lifesaving medical care and services. These delays in cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment interruptions, have resulted to the progression of the disease, substantive increases in the diagnosis of advanced cancers, unnecessary complications, disabilities, and worst, even premature death.

In 2020 alone, as reflected in the World Health Organization’s Global Cancer Observatory, more than 153,000 new cancer cases were recorded in the Philippines. Cancer was the second leading cause of death in the country from January to December 2020, with over 62,300 deaths. In addition, recent studies have revealed that cancer patients who acquired COVID-19 are 16 times more likely to be in the severe and critical categories.

Sadly, in the midst of COVID19, cancer has become the forgotten C, even as it continues to be a major cause of mortality. morbidity and disability. International bodies, including the World Health Organization, have warned that given disruptions, delays and interruptions of care for cancer patients, there will be an upcoming tidal wave of cancer patients, requiring more advanced and complex treatment. Lack of attention to the needs of cancer patients today is like a shadow curve, that is growing silently but dangerously.

As cancer patients and their families continue to struggle and suffer, fighting an unprecedented two-pronged war (Cancer and COVID19), the Cancer Coalition of the Philippines asks that the funding for the National Integrated Cancer Control Program and the Cancer Assistance Fund should be reinstated as separate line items in the DOH National Budget for 2022, in full adherence to the provisions of the NICCA.

We call on our legislators in both Houses of Congress, to support this urgent appeal and DELIVER THE PROMISE OF NICCA for the benefit of hundreds of thousands of Filipino cancer patients and their families. If unrectified, this will be a grave injustice and blatant disregard to mandate of NICCA and to the millions of Filipinos who are supposed to benefit from this law, with proper implementation and appropriate funding.

You once STOOD UP for cancer patients when you passed the NICCA, we ask that once again, you come to their rescue, SPEAK OUT for them and ACT decisively to resolve this issue.

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