Senator Nancy Binay on Thursday appealed to the Department of Health (DOH) to fast track the full implementation of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA) and immediately look for ways to fund its cancer assistance program.
Binay noted that more than a year has passed since the NICCA’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) were signed yet cancer patients have yet to benefit from the law that was specially crafted for them.
The senator, one of the authors of the law, said she is disappointed at the DOH after it revealed that the agency has no specific item for the Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF) under their budget.
“Maybe we can put a small amount so that the government’s CAF won’t have a zero budget,” Binay said.
Supplemented by the Universal Health Care (UHC) law, NICCA was established to help cancer patient access to much-needed health services to cushion the financial impact on the patient and the family.
Under the NICCA, DOH is mandated to have a CAF to provide financial assistance to patients in need.
During the Senate’s hearing on the budget of the DOH, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the health department has already proposed a P535-million budget for the CAF but the fund has yet to be approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Nonetheless, Duque said the agency would look for ways how it can boost its medical assistance fund to help cancer patients.
Binay agreed with Duque’s suggestion but advised the DOH to first draft clear guidelines on how indigent cancer patients can avail of the aid.