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Cancer in PhilHealth

Even though cervical cancer screening has been included in a diagnostic package three years ago, the Senate of the Philippines still sought to establish a Philippine Cancer Center as well as a national control program.

In the “Tamang Serbisyo sa Kalusugan ng Pamilya” (Tsekap), cervical cancer was among the medical conditions included in the Enhanced Primary Care Package by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). A total of 15, 068, 028 indigent and sponsored members of the health company can go to either a private or a public hospital that is a Tsekap provider.

But there are still gaps in cancer care, Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito reasoned, so he filed Senate Bill 1850 or the “National Integrated Cancer Control Act”. It was approved on third and final reading to be able to, as its title implies, integrate policies for the prevention, detection, correct diagnosis, treatment, and management of cancer.

“Through the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, we can give cancer patients a choice, we can give them hope – hope that they will have an equitable and affordable cancer treatment and care especially for the underprivileged and marginalized Filipinos,” Sen. Ejercito was quoted saying in an article.

Under the bill, it will not only be cervical cancer that the PhilHealth can sponsor for but all types and stages of cancer in both adults and children. All member employees and voluntary members shall be covered and compensated by the sickness benefits of the Social Security System and the disability benefits of the Government Service Insurance System.

All health maintenance organizations would be required, too, to cover genetic counseling and testing, cancer screening, and diagnostic and palliative care. The University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital should establish the Philippine Cancer Center and a fund—the Cancer Assistance Fund—to ensure a steady supply of cancer drugs and cancer control related vaccines to patients.

Cancer is the third leading cause of adult death and the 4th for child morbidity in the country. There are an estimated 8 deaths per day for child cancer and up to 11 new cases and 7 deaths per hour for adult cancer based on the record of the Department of Health. This translates to almost 110,000 new cancer cases and over 66,000 cancer deaths every year.

“Through the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, we can give cancer patients a choice, we can give them hope – hope that they will have an equitable and affordable cancer treatment and care especially for the underprivileged and marginalized Filipinos,” Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the Medical Observer

Accessibility and more

Local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines have been doing what they can for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the country.

In Antique, for instance, the Provincial Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) in Antique has held an accessibility audit in the establishments and schools in the city. It was headed by Paolo Castillo who visited the Eagles Hotel, Land Bank of the Philippines, Special Education and Development Antique Integrated School, Antique Christian Center Incorporated, and Advance Central College together with the Association of the Municipal Engineers of Antique, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

In Marikina City, on the other hand, Vice Mayor Jose Cadiz has worked on a software so that PWDs can be picked up from specific points in the locality.

It also launched a PWD-friendly tricycle–a first of its kind in the Philippines—which is inspired by the units in Tokyo and Hong Kong. The tricycle has a larger space that can accommodate a passenger in a wheelchair and three persons more. It also has a ramp and straps to easily draw the passenger into the vehicle while securing the wheelchair on board.

The city government has one unit only, though. It was hoping the private sector will contribute in producing more units. The so-called PWD-friendly tricycle will cost P10,000 more than a regular tricycle but there will be no terminal membership fee of P50,000 anymore since the units do not have to be parked in a terminal.

“We are not fighting for pity. What we are asking is for them to respect our rights regardless of our disabilities. Because, in a way, we are all equal.” ~ Charito Manglapus

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Rappler

How SPED is in the Philippines

Educating persons with disabilities in the Philippines seemed to be more ideal than what The PWD Forum expected.

In 2012, the Department of Education (DepEd) has allotted P180 million for its Special Education program. That’s a 56% increase from its budget of P115 million only in the previous year!

It has also opened 69 more SPED centers then—from 276 only–where each one can get P500,000 subsidy from the fund for pupil development activities including training, educational trips, camp activities, sports and other events; procurement of instructional materials, supplies and learning assessment tools; and training of more teachers, school heads and SPED supervisors. Then-Education Secretary Brother Armin Altamirano Luistro has entrusted its implementation to division and regional offices.

The DepEd has continued to ensure providing “the necessary educational interventions for learners with certain exceptionalities through its Special Education (SPED) program.” In the program, there could be (1) a separate class for only one type of exceptionality, (2) a teacher who would travel—at home or in schools—to provide direct and consultative services, (3) a designated place where there is a specialized equipment, (4) a chance for a PWD to receive special instructions from a SPED teacher; (5) a possibility to be either partially or fully integrated, and (6) an opportunity for PWDs, regardless of the nature and severity of their disability and need for related services, to receive total education within the regular education classroom.

So for this school year, there would be 40,642 teachers for the  kindergarten and elementary level, 34,244 teachers for the junior high school, and 356 teachers for the senior high school. It will be charged against the new school personnel positions budget of the Department of Education (DepEd), which was allotted P553.31 billion in total this year

“We believe that special learners deserve special attention and specialized learning tools, thus the increase in funding support.” ~ Bro. Armin Luistro

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the Leonard Cheshire

Notes:

Partial integration – the PWD enrolled in a special class is integrated with regular children during non-academic activities like work education, physical education, arts, school programs, etc, then gradually integrated in the academic subjects if qualified.

Full integration – the PWD enrolled in a special class is integrated with regular children in all academic and non-academic subjects.

Why Educating PWDs is Better

Learning is important and every individual—with disabilities or none—must have a chance for it. It is notable then that hearing-impaired Hilarion Daen Jr. and blind Edna Blacer would teach special education to students at the Rawis Elementary School in Legazpi City.

Daen Jr., 56, handles kindergarten pupils with hearing deficiencies for two decades to date. He believes that early childhood education is one of the most crucial parts of child development especially for children with impairments.

“Other than making them understand that they are part of the society despite their impairment, it is also important to make them realize that they are not just accepted, but they can also do something for the community, and I, being a hearing-impaired teacher, am the best example,” Daen Jr. was quoted saying in a report.

“Seeing each of my students learn new things every day satisfies me and makes me motivated to stay in this profession,” he added.

Blacer, 45, on the other hand, started teaching with a normal vision. After a decade, though, her vision regressed so she can only recognize letters in relatively large sizes now.

“The current inclusive learning strategy paves the way for these visually-impaired students to see the world in a different perspective, enabling them to take part in community development regardless of their visual disability,” Blacer was also quoted saying in the same report.

Recently, the Department of Education (DepEd) has tallied 471 SPED centers and regular schools catering to elementary students and 177 providing for secondary students. Rehabilitating persons with disabilities during early childhood is crucial because, like what Julia Rees, UNICEF Department Representative has said ,”good care and development during this time increases their chances of becoming healthy and productive adults and lessening the future cost of education, medical care, and social spending.”

“Early childhood intervention can fulfill the rights of children with disabilities in promoting rich and fulfilling childhoods and prepare them [for] meaningful participation in adulthood,” she added.

“I want to tell the kids that even though their situation is difficult, because of their visual impairment, they should not lose hope. They need to persevere. They need the determination to pursue what they want to be and achieve in their life.” ~ Edna Blacer

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of  Rappler

Being SPED-ready

In the Philippines, an educational institution has become “SPED-ready”: the Carmona National High School (CNHS) in Cavite.

“SPED-ready” is a term The PWD Forum will use from now on in describing schools that let students—with disabilities or none—learn together. It was its belief to either integrate special education to the basic and secondary curriculum of the schools in the Philippines or teach sign language. It would help the country’s economy if almost all of its citizens are skilled and, since its population is ageing, everyone is qualified to meet the labor demands of globalization.

So for its part, the CNHS has launched socialization activities that give practical training to PWDs. “Hindi namin itinatago ang mga [estudyanteng may] IDs (intellectual disability) ditto (Here, we do not hide our students with intellectual disabilities),” CNHS principal Teresita Silan was quoted in a report.

It has inspired high school student Bernadette Levardo to hang out instead of tucking herself in. She now aims to be a chef, buy a house, and own a restaurant.

“Through the transition program, Bernadette was trained, she improved her social skills, and it boosted her confidence. I was even amazed she was able to deliver a speech just recently in senior high school,” her teacher, Estie Manguiat, has remarked in the same report.

Integration could allow PWDs and non-PWDs alike to develop their skills and interact independently. Even Student Inclusion Division head Nancy Pascual of the DepEd central office has come to see that development and social adaptation are much faster with interaction.

In CNHS, this is done through a seating arrangement that lets PWDs and non-PWDs sit together. Non-SPED educators are also regularly trained to be sensitive to a PWDs’ needs and pace of learning by the local government’s Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO). The school has forged partnerships with fast food chains and factories in their town, too, to promote employment.

As of now, the Philippines can already boast of schools that are “SPED-ready”. The only thing to work on is an “upgrade” of these educational institutions into learning resource centers (LRCs) to get a mainstream school enroll PWDs.

“Specialized equipment are lodged in the learning resource centers. Any school that has PWD enrollment will be able to access it anytime of the year. This addresses the financial side. Instead of going to SPED schools far from their homes, they could just enroll in the nearest school to their residence, which is not necessarily a SPED center.” ~ Nancy Pascual

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Rappler