PH National Cancer Summit 2024 spotlights NICCA’s pivotal role in cancer prevention

The 2024 Philippine National Cancer Summit (PNCS) marked a pivotal moment in the nation's fight against cancer, spotlighting the transformative potential of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA) in enhancing early detection, diagnosis, and treatment.

Cancer continues to be a significant public health issue, contributing to 7.84% of the country's disease burden and ranking as the third highest cause of Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALY). Breast cancer is the most common among women, accounting for 31.4% of cases, while lung cancer is the most prevalent and deadliest among men, with 19.5% of cases.

Against the backdrop of these daunting statistics, the two-day summit, themed “Advancing Integrated Cancer Care Systems for the Filipino,” offered new hope and direction, aligning with the goals of the NICCA.

Enacted on February 14, 2019, the NICCA provides a comprehensive framework to ensure the availability of quality and affordable cancer care services, aiming to improve survival rates and alleviate the financial burden on patients and their families.

Dr. Manuel Francisco “Ramy” Roxas, chairperson of the Philippine College of Surgeons Cancer Commission Foundation (PCS CanCom), which spearheaded the summit, highlighted the event's importance in bringing together stakeholders from various sectors to improve cancer care.

“We are very honored that many dignitaries are joining us today to make this cancer summit even better than last year. But the task ahead is still long and challenging. We are here to listen to each other and inspire each other to continue to improve cancer care for our people,” he stated, emphasizing a "whole of society" approach to the cancer fight.

In his keynote address read by Philippine Cancer Center Head Dr. Alfonso Nunez III, Department of Health Secretary Teodoro “Ted” Herbosa pointed out the significant challenge cancer poses to public health and its expensive consequences. He stressed the need to educate and inform communities about health-maintaining behaviors and disease prevention.

“Our endeavors covered the end-to-end spectrum of care with a strong emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention,” Herbosa remarked.  “Central to our national cancer strategy is the early and regular screening measures such as sparing sufficient time for regular physical checkups. That includes breast examination, specifically mammograms, cervical screening, and many more. These services are available and accessible. Early detection saves lives by enabling timely interventions when treatment outcomes are most favorable.”

Meanwhile, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr. underscored the critical role that local government units (LGUs) play in integrating national guidelines with local needs as the primary implementers of healthcare policies.

He aims to unite stakeholders to devise a unified plan for cancer care at the local government level, saying “We should really sit down, look at the capacity of each, harmonize everything, and do a master plan. That is what I commit to this group that we're going to do.” 

At the LGU level, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte shared the city's efforts. “We are in the process of crafting the localized version of the NICCA. The city government can allocate a more significant amount of resources kapag mayroon na tayong local version of the national law.  Hopefully, this can be done by the second quarter of this year,” she said.

Belmonte also stated that their overarching goal is to develop and maintain a system that combines scientific advancements and practical applications into a comprehensive program aimed at reducing cancer morbidity and mortality, especially in Quezon City.

The PNCS 2024, held on February 29 and March 1 at Novotel Araneta, served as a vital platform for stakeholders to collaborate and share innovations in cancer care, aiming to change the landscape of cancer treatment and management in the Philippines. 

By focusing on the importance of early screening and intervention for the most common cancers, the summit sought to gather collective efforts toward a future where cancer is no longer a daunting foe for Filipinos, ensuring access to necessary care and support for everyone.


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