With the commemoration of the World Cancer Day and the second anniversary of the landmark National Integrated Cancer Control Act of 2019 (NICCA), the Cancer Coalition Philippines (CCPh) and members of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) together with the Department of Health (DOH) will hold a series of virtual fora to put a spotlight on the current plight of cancer patients in the country.
The forum with the theme “Cancer Conversations: Navigating Cancer with Patients” on February 4, aims to support patients’ increased understanding, and update information on where to get assistance during the pandemic. The forum will also revisit the implementation of the NICCA, an internationally acclaimed law for comprehensively mapping the path forward to strengthen cancer control, increase cancer survivorship and reduce the burden on patients and families. The forum will have five sessions: Session 1 will provide an overview of the cancer situation in the Philippines and its challenges, and will talk about how the cancer law could be a gamechanger for cancer care in the country. Meanwhile, sessions 2 – 5 will feature various scopes on the available support and resources and addressing early signs of symptoms to be discussed with notable speakers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the strengths and weaknesses of our healthcare system. Over the years, cancer awareness groups have been advocating cancer care prevention, screening, early detection, and access to palliative care. Through this forum, cancer patients can share the challenges they faced during the pandemic and what resources became available to them. In addition to this, cancer patients and their families are looking forward to a hopeful life journey because equitable and affordable cancer treatment and care are provided for under the cancer law. We share in the call for its full implementation so that patients need not wait anymore,” CCPh President Paul Perez remarked.
PHAP Executive Director Teodoro Padilla added, “In the face of the pandemic, we see how the pharmaceutical industry is working together and harnessing innovation to find viable vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for COVID-19. As we gain momentum in our pandemic response, we remember our commitment to cancer patients who have also been impacted by the pandemic. They have long delayed visits to healthcare professionals and facilities, as well as their treatments. We could better strengthen our fight against COVID-19 if we protect vulnerable groups like our cancer patients and their families. We are honored to partner with the Department of Health and the Cancer Coalition Philippines for this platform where we develop comprehensive, sustainable measures to strengthen the country’s healthcare system now.”
“This joint initiative aims to provide patients with more insights on available funding resources and know more about the status of the NICCA review moving forward. Ultimately, it aims to offer hope and information to patients, as well as their families,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.
Almost a year since the quarantine was imposed across the country, the pandemic continues to expose vulnerable populations, including cancer patients and their families. In the Philippines, cancer is the second leading cause of death after heart disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer reports that more than 90,000 Filipinos died of cancer and more than 150,000 new cancer patients added.
“This pandemic has underscored the importance of a strong and reliable health care system for any given country, but with landmark laws such as the National Integrated Cancer Control Act and the Universal Healthcare Law, we will ensure that we build a health system that provides quality health care without financial hardship for every Filipino, including our cancer patients. As we continue fighting the pandemic, the DOH, together with its partners, shall continue to provide early and sufficient access to cancer medicines and ensure the highest possible chance of survival among people with cancer,” Sec. Duque said.
This free forum is made possible by MSD, Pfizer, Roche, Takeda, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis and Johnson & Johnson with support from ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel), BusinessMirror, BusinessWorld, and The Philippines Graphic.
The second forum is scheduled on February 10 with the theme “In-Depth Discussions: From Policy to Meaningful Action.”.