Monday, May 12, 2014

Breast Cancer and the Philippine Senate

In several occasions in the past years, the PBCN had attended Congressional and Senate public hearings on proposed legislative bills on breast cancer. In all of them, focus was on early detection by annual mammograms. The PBCN always submitted its position against mammography and instead proposed efforts to address this public health epidemic with prevention actions.

As can be seen in the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th Congress, all proposed Senate Bills carried a medical perspective and upon further study, were actually lifted from similar bills proposed in the US Senate.

SBN 2019 of Sen. Santiago was on the hospitalization of women medically with breast cancer but who have health plans.

In the 14th Congress, SBN's 2017 of Sen. Santiago, SBN 1815 of Sen. Villar and SBN 78 of Sen. Legarda were all focused on mammography and early detection.

SBN 3071 of Sen. Trillanes was about breast cancer benefits in Philhealth's coverage of its members.

SBN 1784 was for the enactment of Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2007 in continuation of her SBN 2019.

For the 15th Congress, SBN 1399, SBN 1110 and SBN 189 were for the enactments of previous bills proposed by Senators Legarda, Villar and Trillanes.

It was during this period that the PBCN attended a public hearing and submitted its position while voicing out its strong view on the matter of early detection and vehemently questioned the medical perspective on breast cancer, while urging government to look into and act on the environmental causes of the disease.

In the current 16th Congress, the Senate is about to enact the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act by Sen. Santiago, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Potection Act by Sen. Trillanes and the Breast Cancer Detection Act of 2013 by Sen. Legarda.

All these acts will not only result into the furtherance of a public health epidemic beause of overdiagnosis and overtreatment but worse, will not stop our women from getting breast cancer. The Philippines has had the highest increase of breast cancer incidence worldwide for the past 30 years and yet nothing is being done to identify and eliminate the environmental causes of breast cancer.

The most recent studies in North America and Europe have already confirmed what the PBCN has long been saying about mammography and early detection. Yet our "well-meaning" Senators have either refused or have been coerced by the multi-billion medical-pharmaceutical industry not to act in favor of our people.

The Senate Committee on Health chaired by Sen. Guingona has scheduled another public hearing on breast cancer this May 20th 2014 and the method by which the PBCN was being invited was very much insulting. Without any previous communication, they called to simply ask if the PBCN would be interested to attend. Attend what? Another circus of totally uniformed Senators on the true issues on breast cancer?

The PBCN still hopes for a courageous Senator who will truly champion the welfare and interests of our people! That of eliminating the environmental causes of this public health epidemic that chooses no one regardless of economic or social status. Breast Cancer does NOT have to happen!  

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