Cancer patients plead for sustained aid
Cancer advocacy groups urged the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to sustain its medical aid program, which suffered a budget cut.
Patients belonging to the groups Touched by Max Inc. and Philippine Foundation on Breast Care Inc. (PFBC) expressed fear that they couldn’t afford costly cancer treatments without the daily financial help from the PCSO’s Individual Medical Assistance Program (Imap).
“Some of our patients are even dying, and we don’t want to see them leave this world just because they have no means to afford the treatments,” said Rod Padua, head of Touched by Max, a group of leukemia and cancer patients.
“They have the right to live,” he added.
Through Imap, the PCSO pays for treatments of beneficiaries, including those with cancer.
But in September, the PCSO announced that it was reducing the budget for Imap from P20 million to just P4.1 million a day because the program had already exceeded its spending limit by more than P500 million.
Dr. Larry Cedro, assistant PCSO general manager, said that this was due to the 27.9 percent increase in the number of beneficiaries in the first semester of 2018.
Cedro said rising health care costs added to the problem.
In 2016, the Commission on Audit flagged the PCSO for overspending and urged it to review its expenses.
PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan, however, said the change would be just temporary.
Malu Cortez, PFBC chair, said the shortage of funds could lead to patients drop-ping out in the middle of their treatment programs.
She cited the case of Eden, a 49-year-old mother of four, who was diagnosed in 2016 with breast cancer.
Her treatment program required 18 cycles of chemotherapy, which costs around P147,000 each.
Through Imap, she was guaranteed P20,000 in aid.
But with the budget reduction, Eden may have to forgo treatment.
“We plead for immediate action that the government will provide the bridge of hope for patients like Eden,” Cortez said.
A recent report by Philippine Statistics Authority showed that cancer was the second leading cause of death in the country.
More than 80 percent of Filipino families, meanwhile, are incapable of paying out of pocket for their basic medical care, according to Philippine Cancer Society.
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