Cancer Coalition Philippines (CCPh), a coalition of cancer patient advocates, held a consultation with stakeholders on April 4, 2018 at Mario’s in Quezon City, to intensify its push for the National Integrated Cancer Control Bill pending in Congress.
“The proposed bill is to ensure Filipinos gain access to national and integrated care for all cancers in all ages, genders and all stages,” said Paul Perez, CCPh spokesperson and Founder of Project: Brave Kids.
The various stakeholders at the meeting represented medical societies, cancer patient organizations, local government, academe, and the pharmaceutical industry. Each sector has been implementing programs on its own to improve the ecosystem of the cancer community, and the continuum of cancer care, from prevention to palliative care.
Blending everyone’s aspirations will enable each group to scale up its programs on a national level, according to Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, CCPh co-chairman, and founding president of ICANSERVE Foundation. “None of us can do this alone. We can’t afford to be divided. We must speak as one. We must represent each other wherever we go in the name of saving lives from cancer. We are running out of time. We need to get the bill passed as soon as possible.” She said there is a lot of work ahead, and called for perseverance: “Cancer is smart, we must outsmart it. We can only do it if we stay united.”
Doris Nuval, an ICANSERVE volunteer, echoed the call: “The law is not the end of the problem. There is the IRR. The work, the vigilance continues.”
The World Health Organization said that in 12 years, new cancer cases will increase by 80 percent. This means cancer, now ranked as the third cause of death of Filipinos, can move up to number one in 12 years.
In attendance were cancer patient organizations ICANSERVE Foundation, Kythe Foundation, New Vois Association of the Philippines, Philippine Alliance of Persons with Chronic Illness, Philippine Association of Patient Organizations, Philippine Brain Tumor Alliance; cancer support organizations like Carewell Community Foundation, Philippine Cancer Society, and Project: Brave Kids; medical societies Philippine College of Surgeons Committee on Cancer, Philippine Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, PSHPU, Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, and Philippine Society of Oncologists; pharmaceutical companies; Philippine General Hospital and local government representatives.
The National Integrated Cancer Control substitute bill of the Committee on Health at the Lower House has been approved and will be forwarded to the Committee on Appropriations. The Senate has had its first public hearing on the issue and is scheduled for a technical working group meeting. -Story and photos by Giselle Arroyo (ICANSERVE)

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