Healthcare advocates seek cancer services amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 1) – Healthcare advocates on Friday pushed for the creation of a cancer information center so that patients can access telemedicine services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Antonio Villalon, former president of the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, said cancer patients are at risk of contracting coronavirus in hospitals.

Villalon said the facility may be patterned after the American Cancer Society Cancer Information Center, where trained medical experts in a 24/7 call center-type office respond to medical needs.

“Here in our country, the patients will call the hospital to set an appointment. But the hospital operator who will pick up their call cannot give (advise) because he/she is not a trained nurse or doctor,” Villalon said in the daily Laging Handa briefing.

Karen Villanueva of the Philippine Alliance of Patient Organization appealed to the government to implement the Universal Healthcare Law and the National Integrated Cancer Control Act.

“Now is the time to accelerate the move towards universal healthcare. Provide the healthcare services to the people and convene the cancer council to start the work for cancer control,” said Villanueva in the same briefing, citing the creation of the National Integrated Cancer Control Council as prescribed in the law signed in 2019.