In commemoration of the third anniversary of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA), the Department of Health (DOH) on February 14 conducted   a forum with the theme “Transformative Innovations on Cancer Care: The Way Forward” to celebrate the country’s development and approaches in cancer care.

“The country’s goal is to provide cancer control services to about 50% of all Filipino cancer patients, improve their quality of life, and reduce overall cancer mortality by 10 percent by the year 2030,” said DOH Cancer Control Program Manager Dr. Clarito Cairo.

Government investments through PhilHealth, Malasakit Centers, Cancer and Supportive-Palliative Medicines Access Program, and the Cancer Control Assistance Program through the Cancer Assistance Fund among others covering both in-patient and out-patient services and procedures were discussed during the forum.

“It is NICCA’s dream that the local government units will be inspired to set up their own local cancer assistance fund as well as cancer control initiatives. We need a whole-of-government, whole-of-society, and a whole-of-systems approach to bring forward a patient-centered care,” said CCPh President Mr. Paul Perez.

The event also highlighted the collective efforts of patient, healthcare, and advocacy organizations towards the implementation of the NICCA and the Universal Healthcare (UHC) Act at both the national and local government levels. 

“Even as we continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer remains a national health priority of our government as it has a profound impact on individuals, families, communities, and the entire healthcare system. Since the enactment of NICCA, cancer control in the country is gaining momentum on different fronts. With our commitment and innovations, cancer is no longer a death sentence,” said Department of Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.

The Cancer Coalition Philippines (CCPh), Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations (PAPO), Medicines Transparency Alliance (META), Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF), CitizenWatch, Galing Pook, Philippine Cancer Society (PCS), AC Health, Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO) and the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) and its Members also joined DOH in the forum. This was also co-presented by PHAP Members MSD, Roche, Pfizer and Takeda, in cooperation with Novartis Healthcare, and with support from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Otsuka.

Cancer care will always remain on the health agenda. With the implementation of NICCA, those affected with the disease are given a new opportunity to fully experience their lives.