By Macon Ramos-Araneta
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released the 2023 Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF) amounting to P500 million to the Department of Health (DOH).
The amount is part of the DBM’s comprehensive fund releases at the start of the year.
According to DBM Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman, this is an affirmation of the government’s commitment to boosting the health and welfare of Filipinos suffering from cancer.
The CAF aims to complement and supplement existing financial support mechanisms for various cancer care and control services that are not yet covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and only partially covered by Malasakit Program.
The fund will defray outpatient and inpatient cancer control services, including but not limited to, diagnostics, therapeutic procedures, and other cancer medicines needed for the treatment and management of cancer and its care-related components.
Dr. Kenneth Samala, a practicing oncologist, meanwhile called on the DOH to expedite the inclusion of new medicines, including injectables, to treat cancer patients.
Speaking during the Kapihan ng Samahan Plaridel at the Manila Hotel, Samala lamented that these medicines have been difficult to include in the Philippine National Formulary.
He said this is one of the roadblocks they are facing to use new anti-cancer drugs for patients. New cancer medicines, including injectables, have been proven effective against cancer in other countries.
More than infrastructures to address the needs of cancer patients, he emphasized that the government should also hasten the inclusion of new medicines, part of the new technology, in the Philippine National Formulary.
He also mentioned oral medicines which can be a replacement to chemotheraphy. However, he cited the need to hire more experts to further study the new cancer medicines.
Samala and Aileen Antolin of Kasuso, Philippine Foundation for Breast Care, Inc. cited the lack of mammogram machines in hospital settings, particularly in public facilities. Macon Ramos-Araneta