Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, continues to advocate for increased funding for the Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF) under the Department of Health, particularly for the 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
He intends to seek support from his fellow legislators to double the amount designated for this purpose to strengthen the fund and provide more substantial assistance to cancer patients across the nation. This appeal comes after the reports of an alarming increase in cancer cases, not only in the Philippines but around the world, demanding more comprehensive support from the government to battle this life-threatening disease.
“Dapat patuloy na pataasin ang budget para sa cancer assistance fund. In fact, during the last year’s budget deliberation, pinondohan ito ng Kongreso ng P250 million, pagdating naman po sa Senado dinagdagan din po natin, naging P500 million po ang pondo para sa cancer assistance fund for 2023,” said Go in an interview after his visit to Quezon City on Saturday, September 9.
“Ngayon po isinusulong natin na madoble po ito na maging P1 bilyon at sa pagkaalam ko kulang talaga ito sa dami po ng mga nagkakasakit ng cancer. Talagang pipilayan ang pamilya tuwing nagkakanser ka, pilay na po ang inyong pamilya, halos hindi na po nakakatrabaho ‘yan, nakafocus na po sa pagpapagamot,” he added.
Go further stressed that the rise in cancer cases necessitates a proactive response from the government. He said bolstering the CAF will ease the financial burden of cancer patients and their families, ensuring that they have access to the essential treatments and support required to battle this disease.
Furthermore, the above-mentioned is also in line with the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA), under Republic Act No. 11215, which was signed by former president Rodrigo Duterte in 2019. Within NICCA, the CAF plays a pivotal role as an indispensable component, offering vital financial support to cancer patients across the nation.
Section 20 of NICCA states that cancer patients are granted access to free financial assistance for various needs. These encompass everything from essential screening tests to specialized treatments, diagnostic procedures, palliative care, and the vital medications that are instrumental in their journey toward recovery.
Go further stressed the need to bridge the gap between the high cost of cancer treatment and the financial means of those who need it most. It is for this reason that he continues to advocate for a larger allocation for the CAF and recognizes that every peso invested in cancer assistance is an investment in the health and well-being of countless individuals and their families.
“The more na dapat po ay dagdagan natin ang pondo para sa cancer assistance fund, the more we should invest sa ating healthcare system dahil ang hirap pong magkasakit lalong-lalo na po ang mahihirap nating kababayan na walang ibang matakbuhan po kung hindi itong mga government hospitals,” Go urged.
“Imbes na tapyasan, imbes na bawasan ipaglaban po natin itong pagdaragdag ng pondo sa Department of Health hindi lang po kontra cancer na sakit kundi pangkalahatan po, kabuuang health budget po. Dapat po ma-restore, dapat po ay madagdagan,” he appealed.
Meanwhile, in a heartfelt tribute to the late Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), Go, a member of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, supported the proposed cancer fund intended to support Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
This initiative, which was championed by Ople, who passed away recently while battling breast cancer, highlights the urgent requirement to offer aid and compassion to the modern-day heroes who are confronting cancer while working far away from their homes.
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