MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives approved on 3rd and final reading a bill that would establish a National Integrated Cancer Control Program.

Lawmakers gave their nod to House Bill (HB) 8626 on Monday, December 3, with a vote of 198-0-0.


The measure seeks to create a national, comprehensive program that would serve as a framework for all cancer-related activities of the government.

This includes programs aimed at providing affordable and accessible cancer treatment and care for all patients, decreasing the overall mortality and impact of all adult and childhood cancer cases, lessening the incidence of preventable cancer in adults and children, preventing the recurrence of cancer, and eliminating various forms of "burden" on cancer patients, survivors, and their families.

What are the highlights of the bill? HB 8626 would create a National Integrated Cancer Control Advisory Council, which shall act as the recommendatory body for policy matters regarding cancer control. The Department of Health (DOH) secretary or any official with a rank not lower than assistant secretary would chair this council.

Other members include the secretaries or designated representatives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Labor and Employment, and Department of the Interior and Local Government, the chairperson or representative of the Commission on Higher Education, president or representative of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and the director general or representative of the Food and Drug Administration.

Other council members would include 3 medical doctors who have "distinguished themselves professionally in public, civic, or academic service in the field of oncology" and who have at least 10 years of active service. Two council members would also come from cancer-focused patient support organizations.

The bill would also create a Cancer Assistance Fund, which would be used to support the medicine and treatment assessment program for cancer patients. The DOH would be managing this fund.

What happens now? The Senate already passed its version of the measure last November. This means the bill will now go to the bicameral conference committee level, where lawmakers will have to reconcile conflicting provisions in the House and Senate versions. –

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