“Public-private partnership in health works” – Sen. Pia Cayetano

“Basta magtulungan mabubuhay at maililigtas and mga batang may kanser sa Pilipinas! [As long as we help one another we can save the lives of children afflicted with cancer in the Philippines],” said Senate Health and Demography Committee Chair Senator Pia Cayetano.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), the Public Private Partnership Program in the Philippines has improved access to treatment for childhood cancer, which causes deaths in children aged 1-14.

“The very successful Public Private Partnership Program initiated in November 2009 by the DOH has seen remarkable increase in survivorship- from 20 to 50 percent survival in covered project sites,” reported Sen. Cayetano. However, she pointed out that high cost of medicines in the country and unaffordable out-of-pocket payments for the families remain challenges in combating childhood cancer.

The review of the Cheaper Medicines Program of the Philippines made by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies showed that drugs in the Philippines are more expensive than in other countries in Asia. Drug prices ranges from 5 to 30 times more expensive than similar brand names of similar manufacturers in India and Pakistan. The World Health Organization (WHO) also reported that the Philippines has one of the world’s highest out-of-pocket costs to patients.

As a response, the government implemented Executive Order 821, which prescribes the maximum retail price for selected medicines including some antihypertensive, antibiotics, and anti-cancer drugs.

“The government also successfully negotiated with drug companies to slash 50 to 70 percent of the prices of nine pediatric chemotherapy drugs used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL),” informed Senator Cayetano.

For patients who cannot afford treatment, the DOH-National Center for Pharmaceutical Access & Management (DOH-NCPAM) has a Medicines Access Program in partnership with different a private stakeholder which provides free medicines to indigent patients.

“Together, we can win this battle with childhood cancer. I ask the Public Private Partnership Office to prioritize the roll-out of programs and initiatives for childhood cancer,” appealed Sen. Cayetano.