Medical advances have made cancer treatable even at stage 4, or when the disease has spread to other organs in the body, but public resources in the Philippines have yet to fill the gap in cancer care, according to an expert.
The 2023 General Appropriations Act includes P1.56 billion for two cancer funds. However, an expert pointed out the cost needed for each cancer case.
Each breast cancer patient needs P300,000 to P450,000 to complete the required 18 treatment cycles for the disease, according to Marvin Jonne Mendoza, head of the section of medical oncology of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute.
The Philippines adds at least 27,000 new cases of breast cancer each year, he noted.
“If we have to save more lives, we need more funds from the government not just for treatment but for testing, because early diagnosis and treatment is far more effective than treating late-stage disease,” Mr. Mendoza said in an e-mailed statement.
The medicines for different kinds of cancer are already available locally, he said. The government provides free, targeted therapies for two types of cancer, breast and lymphoma, in 23 public hospitals nationwide.
A cancer center at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital is in the works after it became the Marcos administration’s first approved public-private partnership.
“We can beat cancer now. We can save lives. And we are trying our best to make treatment accessible nationwide, especially to those who cannot afford the treatment,” added Mr. Mendoza.
Neoplasms, commonly known as cancer, was the third leading cause of death in the Philippines in 2022. One hundred eighty-nine of every 100,000 Filipinos are affected by cancer, with four Filipinos dying of the disease every hour. — Patricia B. Mirasol