DBM releases P500-million cancer assistance fund for 2023

By GISELLE OMBAY,GMA Integrated News

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released a P500 million Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF) to the Department of Health (DOH) to aid Filipinos suffering from cancer.

In a statement on Monday, DBM said the released amount was part of its comprehensive fund releases for the start of 2023.

The agency said the CAF aimed to complement and supplement existing financial support mechanisms for various cancer care and control services that are not yet covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and those only partially covered by the Malasakit Program.

It will also pay for 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 CAF also includes funding of the needed diagnostics and laboratories related to eight priority cancer types namely: breast cancer; childhood cancers; gynecologic cancers; liver cancer, including colorectal and other digestive tract cancers; adult blood cancers; head and neck cancers, including thyroid; lung cancer; and prostate, renal, and urinary bladder cancer.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire welcomed this development, saying that this is a big help for cancer patients in the country.

“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,” she said.

(This cancer assistance fund will greatly help our cancer patients because it will not only support medicine but cancer patients could also be provided with free diagnostic procedures that they need.)

During the deliberations for the 2023 budget, Vergeire asked Congress to restore DOH’s budget for its cancer assistance program as the DBM earlier removed the provision in 2023.


“Pinaglaban namin itong P500 million na cancer assistance fund. Ito po ay naibigay na sa atin in the previous years. Pero itong 2023 na GAA, pagkita namin, natanggal siya do’n sa aming line item sa ating budget. Kaya lumapit po tayo sa legislators, sa Congress at saka sa Senate para matulungan tayo para maibalik nating itong perang ito,” she said.

(We fought for this P500 million cancer assistance fund. This has been given to us in previous years. But this 2023 GAA, we saw that it was removed from a line item in our budget. We asked the legislators, the Congress, and the Senate to help us so that we can restore the budget for such.)

For her part, DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said that this budget release was an affirmation of the government’s commitment to boost the health and welfare of Filipinos suffering from cancer.

“For many years, cancer has been one of the leading causes of death in the country. Sadly, Filipino families, even those in the upper-income brackets, are vulnerable to catastrophic health spending due to high treatment costs and limited coverage of cancer care under public programs,” she said in a statement.

“Based on 2019 estimates, around 60 percent of the total public cancer expenditures come from out-of-pocket payments and private insurance. Naiintindihan kong mabigat ‘yun sa bulsa at balikat ng ating mga kababayan [I understand that this is heavy on the pockets and shoulders of our countrymen],” she added.

In 2022, DBM said it released P529.2 million for the CAF, P230.8 million of which was utilized by the DOH. The balance of P298.4 million may still be used until the end of 2023.

The execution of the 2023 CAF will be based on the new guidelines to be released both by the DBM and the DOH soon. —NB, GMA Integrated News