In a statement, the DBM said the funds were released to the Department of Health (DOH) for the Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF), which aims to complement and supplement existing financial support mechanisms for cancer patients, persons living with cancer, and cancer survivors.
The funds can be used to cover outpatient and inpatient cancer control services, including diagnostics, therapeutic procedures, and other cancer medicines needed for the treatment and management of cancer and its care-related components.
The DOH has identified eight cancer types that are eligible to be financed by CAF. These are breast cancer, childhood cancer, gynecologic cancer, liver cancer, adult blood cancers, head and neck cancers, lung cancer, and prostate, renal, and urinary bladder cancers.
In a press briefing, DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire expressed gratitude to the DBM.
“Alam niyo po pinaglaban namin itong P500 million na Cancer Assistance Fund dahil ito po ay naibigay na sa atin in the previous years, pero nito pong 2023 na GAA (General Appropriations Act) pagkita namin natanggal po siya dun sa aming line items sa ating budget (You know, we fought for this P500 million Cancer Assistance Fund because it has already been allocated to us in the previous years, but in the General Appropriations Act, we found out that it has been removed from our budget),” she said.
“Itong cancer assistance fund ay malaki ang matutulong sa ating cancer patients kasi hindi lang gamot ang sususportahan nito. You can also be provided with free diagnostic procedures na kailangang kailangan ng ating mga cancer patients ( This cancer assistance fund will greatly help our cancer patients because it will not only support their medication, but it can also provide them with free diagnostic procedures that are much needed),” she added.
In 2022, the DBM released a total of P529.2 million for the program, of which P230.8 million was utilized by the DOH.
The DBM said the P298.4 million balance may still be used until the end of 2023.
To qualify for assistance, the patient must present requirements that include his or her medical history, profile, and treatment plan, both approved by physicians, a doctor’s prescription, a letter of request for financial assistance, and the latest valid IDs.
Based on the 2020 Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates report by the Philippine Cancer Society, cancer is the third leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the country. The top five most common types of cancer among Filipinos are: breast cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, colorectal cancer, and cervical cancer.