A United Front: Philippine National Cancer Summit 2024

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Just got off the Philippine National Cancer Summit 2024 with this year's theme "Advancing Integrated Cancer Care System for the Filipino".
The event was hosted by veteran broadcaster Ms. Jing Castañeda and attended by Dr. Ida Marie Lim the Director of PCS Cancer Commission Foundation Chair of the PNCS Program Committee, Dr Manuel Francisco Roxas the Chairman of Philippine College of Surgeons Cancer Commission Foundation, QC Mayor Joy Belmonte, DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos, Doctors, Patients and stakeholders who provide care for them. In their goal for a unified front in cancer care, discussion heavily concentrated on forming working systems for it.

Dr. Manuel Francisco Roxas who worked in policies and programs in Colo-Rectal Cancer Care says "This is the 5th time that this summit is happening and in 2020, we lobbied with different groups, patients and sectors to pass the law and policies in cancer care. It was a small gathering, and we called the Cancer Commission to celebrate the law being passed, but knew there's so much work to be done in implementation. Last year we did another in a hotel, and knew we needed to pursue more work in collaboration and empowerment against cancer. The DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos, Ted Herbosa, Mayor Joy, we need a united front, not just hospitals, and it is challenging. We hope to continue to promote cancer care to fight against it. Thank you for your dedication, this is for the lives of our fellow Filipinos. Welcome to the summit!"

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte says  "Thank you for having me at this landmark event. I am impressed by the experience gathered in this room from different sectors and government agencies. Cancer management has so many impact in different places in society. There is remarkable advancement, but it still is alarming in statistics. Lung, Breast, Colon cancers bring so much financial burden to may families. LGU's have a crucial role in making it happen, we need a counterpart local versions of the national law. We are working to make it happen in the second quarter of this year. My Mom, my family needed it too. Our goal is to make scientific processes, policies, all of these to work with the specific needs in treatment, prevention in our existing cancer care. Early detection is needed in most of these which is why we do caravans every October during Women's month. We screen them, do mammogram, and go down to communities because it is the least of their priority. We had to be radical, invest in health for women in campaigns, we need timely care and interventions. Families suffer, and as your Mayor, we will be warriors to better support your loved ones. Our city is 100 percent behind your initiatives. You are 200 percent welcome to work with us, especially the poorest of the poor. Nothing is impossible in battling the big C, welcome to Quezon City!"

Dr. Ted Herbosa wasn't around but a representative was sent and gave his statement "There is an urgent need for collaboration, a public health challenge in the country. This is the third rising cause of death, in prevalent forms, knows no age, gender, and the DOH puts this in priority programs. We lobbied for National Integrated Cancer Control Commission, a network of organizations, fund assistance and treatment. It's end to end care for this, both disease and prevention. Early screening, checkups, are now available and accessible. Just ask primary health providers for it. Let us double our efforts, as it is a collective endeavor, every life is important."

DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos says "I join the different stakeholders to discuss the DILG efforts. The Mandanas ruling gave resources to LGU's, but not all local offices are wealthy. The inclusion of Cancer as a rare disease and disability is important, the local investment plans on health including "LAB for Health" that provide laboratory work, medical exams and support from the government is being promoted in communities. This goes for smoke free policies, renal health, PhilHealth Checkup, we need minimum standards to be done in local government units. In Metro Manila, this is easy, but we need to sit down and commit to other places. I am a cancer survivor myself, I asked what I will do tomorrow and worried about my children. I had early detection, and now am cancer free. We need enough nutrition for children, to prevent growth stunting, because that starts brain development and cognition. There are cheap solutions, a lot of things can be done to prevent cancer. We started with taking care of the pregnant women, house to house, when we did baby screening, worked with private hospitals and gave nutrition first, we now have number 1 in our schools. We want to do the same with cancer."

Learning that there are people working hard to make this better for patients and health industry stakeholders, the NICCA - National Integrated Cancer Control Act Universal Healthcare Act (UHC) and the Universal Healthcare Act (UHC) will be useful tools to make our efforts be felt by those who need it. I hope this is a good start, we all have families who have in one way or another have had cancer. We hope good news would come for all that need treatment for it after this.


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