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Congress reinstates the P1.56 billion cancer fund

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The General Appropriations Act (GAA) for this year includes a line-item insertion of PHP1.56 billion for two cancer funds, which will help millions of Filipinos who are afflicted with various types of cancer.

It was “the consequence of multi-partisan, bicameral drive,” according to a statement made on Sunday by Rep. Ralph Recto, the deputy speaker and representative for Batangas’ 6th District.

According to Republic Act 11215, the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, PHP1.054 billion of the PHP1.56 billion insertions would be used for cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and care.

It would be used particularly for the purchase and distribution of medicines for the eight forms of curable cancer as well as for supportive and palliative care.

The Cancer Assistance Fund will use the PHP500 million that is left over to fund cancer prevention, detection, treatment, diagnostics, and care for eight priority cancer types.

According to Recto, the help pool for cancer patients is more than the P1.56 billion total of the two programs.

The 2023 GAA includes a PHP32.6 billion line item for “Medical Assistance to Indigent and Financially-Incapacitated Patients.”

The Department of Health will oversee the fund, which is an increase from PHP21.3 billion last year (DOH).

Department of Health Officer-in-Charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire pleaded with Congress to reinstate the line-item expenditures for the two programs during last year’s budget deliberations.

Recto supported Vergeire and highlighted that reinstating the cancer fund to the national budget was a recommendation from a doctor that could not be disregarded.

“The cancer fund is not a budgetary tumor that needs to be removed. It is a therapeutic instrument that, on the other hand, has to be strengthened, he continued.

According to records, about 60,000 Filipinos, or one every nine minutes, died from cancer in 2021.

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