The cities of Muntinlupa and Taguig were cited as excellent models because of their respective comprehensive barangay-based breast cancer control programs. Both cities showed that multi-partnerships with government, non-government and the private sector organizations were critical to success and sustainability.
Both cities shared their best practices on breast cancer prevention, access to accurate diagnosis, timely treatment and survivorship at the forum, “Conversation Circles: Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Solutions to Sustainable Financing for Cancer Care”, organized by Cancer Coalition Philippines (CCPh) on January 22 to 23, 2019 at the Crowne Plaza in Quezon City.
Coming on the heels of the Congressional ratification of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA), CCPh gathered representatives from medical societies, public and private health service providers, local and national government, patient groups, as well as both national and international health policy leaders and experts, to discuss possible funding and financing for the ratified bill.
“One of the first things we had to establish in the Coalition when crafting the Cancer Bill, was no one should be left behind. People with metastatic and advanced cancer deserve hope. We stand for inclusion, equity. The Coalition decided the Cancer Bill should serve all patients despite their cancer stage, age, gender, ethnicity. We know tough decisions will have to be made when allocating resources. But we have to aim to create that situation when we no longer have to make tough decisions. We have to stop holding on to the old belief that cancer patients are bad investments,” according to Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, co-chair of CCPh and founding president of the ICANSERVE Foundation.
ICANSERVE is the first to have initiated partnerships with local government units for breast cancer control. It introduced its barangay-based breast cancer screening program called “Ating Dibdibin” in 2008. It has covered the cities of Marikina, Panabo, Taguig, Muntinlupa, and Malabon.
Trina Reyes-Biazon, executive director of the Muntinlupa Gender and Development Office and Dr. Peachy Sy of Taguig City LGU presented their “Ating Dibdibin” projects and sources of sustainable funding. Their programs and partnerships with public and private hospitals have shortened the wait time of patients between first consultation and first treatment. In Muntinlupa, many services and tests are available on the same day. In Taguig, each barangay has a breast cancer patient navigator to help ensure patient compliance, quick access to care and a better chance of survival for the patients.
“ICANSERVE is proud of and grateful to the LGUs of Muntinlupa, Taguig, and our other partner cities who have embraced and institutionalized breast cancer control. Their passion as advocates has driven them to continuously grow and innovate their own programs, providing best practices that other localities can learn from. With the passage of the cancer act we hope that their success can be replicated all throughout the country, enabling us to save more lives,” Magsanoc-Alikpala said.
Legislators ratified the bicameral conference report, the reconciled and consolidated version of Senate Bill 1850 and House Bill 8636 on December 13, 2018. It is expected to become a law in February 2019. CCPh, prime mover of the cancer bills, will continue to host multi-stakeholder Conversation Circles on other topics relevant to the implementation of NICCA.
The first forum brought together over 80 health leaders from the public and private sectors. From the national government were officials from the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., and League of Provinces.
Medical societies were represented by the Philippine College of Surgeons, Philippine Medical Association, Philippine Nurses Association, Philippine Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery, Philippine Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, Philippine Society of Oncologists, Philippine Society of Pathology, Philippine Society of Pediatric Oncology, Pain Society of the Philippines, and Society of Gynecologic Oncologists of the Philippines. Public and private healthcare providers included the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, Makati Medical Center, MVP Group of Companies, Qualimed, and AC Health (an Ayala Company).
Also present were national and international health policy experts including former health secretaries Dr. Carmencita Reodica and Dr. Esperanza Cabral, Dr. Susan Pineda of Philippine Red Cross, Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA) chairman Obet Pagdanganan, and Gilda Fridegotto of the World Bank.
Patient groups were represented by CCPh members Cancer Warriors Foundation, Carewell Community Foundation, Philippine Cancer Society, Project: Brave Kids, and ICANSERVE Foundation, as well as Kythe Foundation, Philippine Association of Patient Organizations and Ruth Foundation for Palliative and Hospice Care. -Giselle Arroyo