Cancer hospital for poor pushed

Martin Romualdez

LEYTE Representative-elect Martin Romualdez yesterday batted for the creation of a government-run cancer specialty hospital devoted to cancer patients, especially the poor.

While the newly signed National Integrated Cancer Control Act or Republic Act (RA) No. 11225 allows the creation of cancer specialty hospitals and clinics by the private sector, Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), underscored the need to build a government-run hospital for cancer patients to ensure comprehensive high-quality and more affordable cancer care services.

Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), sought the creation of the Philippine National Cancer Center (PNCC) patterned after the Philippine Heart Center (PHC), the National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI), the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) which were all built during the Marcos administration.

“The creation of the specialty cancer hospital will be included in my legislative agenda as ‘malasakit’ (compassion) to all cancer patients. Kailangang government-funded para hindi madehado ang mga mahihirap na cancer patients,” said Romualdez, one of the leading contenders in the speakership race.

He explained that his proposal would complement the Cancer Control Act that President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte signed last February aimed at institutionalizing a national integrated program to fight cancer cases and improve cancer survivorship in the country.

“We have to complement the newly signed law on battling cancer by building the cancer specialty government hospital to take care of cancer patients. Remember that cancer is the third leading cause of death in the country,” Romualdez stressed as he sought an initial P1 billion funding under the national budget to start building the cancer specialty hospital.

Romualdez recalled that he originally initiated the proposal in the previous 16th Congress where he served as the House Independent Bloc Leader or during the Aquino administration.

It was re-filed this 17th Congress by his wife, Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt Romualdez, the chairperson of the House Committee on Accounts.

The Department of Health’s Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates recorded eight deaths per day due to childhood cancer and 11 new cases and 7 deaths every hour for adult.

“Cancer rates are expected to increase with aging of populations and changes in lifestyles associated with economic development,” said Romualdez.

Romualdez said his proposal would provide care for more difficult and problematic cases of cancer.

“My proposal intends to provide financial support towards the establishment and maintenance of a Cancer Center for the welfare and benefit of the Filipino people,” he said, adding that the government is mandated to provide necessary land, building, equipment and facilities for the establishment of the PNCC.

The congressman explained that the purpose of the center is to operate a specialized hospital for state-of-the-art diagnosis, treatment, care, rehabilitation and/or relief of cancer patients, promote medical research relative to the prevention and treatment of the deadly disease, make information dissemination about cancer, among other things.