Alfred Vargas

P800M hike in 2022 DOH cancer, care budget urged

September 24, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 308 views

QUEZON City Rep. Alfred Vargas has sought an increase of P800 million in the cancer care and treatment budget of the Department of Health
(DoH) for 2022.

This would raise the proposed budget for the Cancer, Supportive Care and Palliative Care Medicines Access Program (CSPMAP) of the DOH from P786 million to P1.586 billion.

Vargas is the principal author of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA) or Republic Act No. 11215, and Chair of the House Committee on Social Services.

In pressing for a budget increase, Vargas said cancer remains a leading cause of death and disability in the Philippines, with 157,000 new cases reported yearly.

He said the P756 million proposed budget for 2022 would only benefit some 26,000 cancer patients “partially or fully assisted for their expenses in medicines.”

“With an additional P800 million budget for the 2022 CSPMAP, we can increase our target beneficiaries to about 60,000 patients or at least one-third of the cancer patients in the country,” he said.

Vargas said several cancer care advocates and families of cancer victims have sought his help in increasing the 2022 budget for cancer care.

“While they appreciate that cancer care and treatment has been given a budget this year, their concern is that it would not be enough considering the current economic situation caused by the pandemic,” he said.

Family members of cancer patients have either lost their jobs or saw their incomes diminished since last year, he said.

“As things stand, they are already experiencing difficulties making ends meet, and the assistance provided by government through this program is all they can depend on,” he added.

Vargas recalled that previously, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and then Deputy Speaker Rep. Paolo Duterte had allocated funds for cancer care and treatment after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) removed the allocation sought by the DOH in the 2021 budget.

“The Speaker and Rep. Duterte gave hope to cancer patients and their families when they moved to provide funding for cancer care and treatment in the 2021 budget,” he said.

“I am confident that concern, compassion, and generosity shown by the Speaker and Rep. Duterte will be shared by my colleagues,” he added.

Speaker Velasco had cited the importance of fully implementing the National Cancer Control Act, saying adequate funds have to be provided to ensure that the law “could effectively serve its purpose of strengthening government efforts to combat cancer and increasing the fighting chance of patients to overcome the disease.”

“Your favorable support for the increase in the proposed budget for CSPMAP in the 2022 GAA will greatly support and protect cancer patients and their families who are heavily affected by the pandemic,” he said.