Cancer Stakeholders’ Meeting

Saturday, May 26, 2012 Stef dela Cruz 2 Comments

The Philippines finally had its very first Cancer Stakeholders’ Meeting last May 25, 2012 at the Diamond Hotel. It was a long time coming. Finally, efforts are being made for all sectors, private and public, to move together as one.

The Cancer Stakeholders’ Meeting was organized by Moving As One, a movement affiliated with the Cancer Institute Foundation of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), that aims to improve cancer care and control in the Philippines. Dr. Cecilia Ladines-Llave is the chair and coordinator of Moving As One.

Stef dela Cruz

I was thankful to be a co-chair for the meeting. Although I have stage fright, I managed to walk up to the stage and speak a few words. I really hate being in the limelight like that. I don’t know how public figures do it!

Cancer Stakeholders' Meeting 2012

Above, I was joined onstage by Dr. Irma Asuncion-Labro, OIC-Director IV of the Center for Health and Development, who spoke on behalf of Dr. Enrique Ona, Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH). To her left is Dr. Anthony Leachon, consultant on Noncommunicable Diseases at DOH. Beside him is Dr. John Juliard Go, World Health Organization (WHO) Technical Officer on Non-Communicable Diseases.

I also came across a few familiar faces, such as Dr. Gil Gonzalez from the University of Santo Tomas Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Dr. Amy Goleta-Dy, President of the Philippine Society of Pediatric Oncology.

Cancer Stakeholders’ Meeting: Highlights

The Cancer Stakeholders’ Meeting started at 8 a.m. and went on until 5 p.m. I have learned a lot regarding the state of cancer control in the country. Other related topics were also discussed, which I shall summarize in a few words below.

  • Lifestyle is NOT necessarily a choice. One of the speakers in the meeting touched on habits and lifestyle, mentioning how even if you “choose to be a smoker”, you can’t just smoke anywhere in countries like Singapore. There, lifestyle is not a matter of choice; your choices are still dictated by laws. And the Philippines can impose similar laws to help curb smoking and other dangerous “habits”. Read on for more.
  • There is a way to increase tobacco taxes w/o hurting tobacco farmers' income. One of the aims of excise tax (known by many as “sin tax”) is to reduce tobacco consumption. This will greatly reduce lung cancer incidence in the country. But people hesitate to support its implementation in fear that tobacco farmers will suffer the consequences. But if a portion of excise taxes will be given to the tobacco farmers, their income will not suffer.
  • Patient education DOES NOT necessarily reduce disease incidence. In one study presented in the meeting, health education did not reduce the incidence of heart disease – it only works in high-risk populations, such as in people who already have hypertension or diabetes. It is therefore a waste of tax payers' money to implement untargeted health education – and the government is better off spending this money on more effective ploys to reduce cancer incidence.

These are just a few of the things I learned at the Cancer Stakeholders’ Meeting. I shall post more information in a few days, so check back soon! You can also get updates on my Facebook page. In the meantime, you might want to read on why I write about cancer or on gene therapy updates on cancer.

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!


  1. the farmers are concerned about their income on tax issues so hopefully this taxes won't make them suffer the consequences. I was hoping that hubby will stop smoking,one thing good from him is thta he don't smoke inside the house and in the car. He knows i have asthma and smoke is bad for me.

  2. Yes, and even the politicians are sort of afraid to support the excise tax amendments because smokers might no longer support them, hehe! But everyone is doing everything possible to get the excise tax amendments passed. I think 200 votes are needed.

    I'm crossing my fingers. And I hope the Philippines follows other countries' trends where excise tax implementation resulted in less lung cancer deaths. :)