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Health authorities estimate that by the year 2020, cancer, at its current rate, will have taken the lives of some 10 million people worldwide. Particularly vulnerable are people in developing nations, such as the Philippines.
Here, the Asia America Initiative, a non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C., recently launched a first of its kind cancer treatment program for the poor, including the establishment of a children's cancer ward at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila.
Medicines for the program, coordinated by Asia America Initiative Director Albert Santoli, are being provided by the U.S.-based National Cancer Coalition and HFK Krebsallianz of Germany. In March, these organizations made an initial donation of $634,000 worth of cancer treatment medicines at the Hall of Flags at the headquarters of the Philippine Marine Corps.
"Hundreds of cancer patients who otherwise would not have access to medication now have access to treatment by oncologists in respected hospitals," said Rohaniza Sumndad, country director of the Asia America Initiative. "The Program brings together international organizations and pharmaceutical corporations with local medical centers to provide life saving treatment for cancer victims of all ages," she said.
Current local program partners include institutions such as the Philippine Cancer Society, the Cancer Institute Foundation, the Rotary Club of Manila San Miguel and the Philippines Marine Corps. U.S.-based partners include the National Cancer Coalition, International Relief and Development, the Brother's Brother Foundation, and MEDPHARM, Inc. -- a service provider of diagnostic imaging equipment, laboratory instruments and supplies.
The Cancer Treatment for the Poor aims to be treating at least 1,000 cancer victims by 2010. "In my experience with the Cancer Institute Foundation and the Philippine General Hospital, I've witnessed the sad reality that many of our Filipino brothers and sisters who have cancer have died and have suffered for a time because of poverty and the lack of health support in terms of cancer treatment," said Antonio Perez, Director of the Cancer Institute Foundation. "With this project, we hope that we could save more lives and help more of our cancer patients."
Cancer treatment should not be reserved only for those who can afford it. The United States Government, through its National Institutes of Health and grants to non-governmental organizations, is working with its international partners to help the world's vulnerable populations meet the threat of one of the world's deadliest killers.