Acting governor Ralph DLG Torres signed into law on Tuesday a bill to appropriate $970,000 from a special cancer fund account to public health programs in the CNMI.
House Bill 19-101—authored by Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan)—is now Public Law 19-16. Torres signed the law before Demapan, lawmakers who co-sponsored the bill, and other public health officials at the Governor’s Office conference room yesterday.
In her brief remarks, Margaret Torres Aldan, director of the Division of Public Health, said early detection is the best protection against oral cancer. She was speaking of DPH’s screening efforts in the last two years in public schools, where they promote oral cancer awareness.
Demapan said they are glad to see $970,000 in public funds go to programs that benefit the community directly.
“Throughout the recent awareness programs that have been going on, we have a very serious problem in the Commonwealth with increasing numbers of cancer data, all different forms of cancer,” Demapan told reporters. “As [cancer] rates go up, we need to step up our work to raise awareness and to be able to direct our people to proper care to where care is available and how to get the care. [By] funding support programs, we are able to reach out people in a more effective manner and hope that through the increased awareness of prevention, we can bring those numbers down in the future.”
The Cancer Fund Special Account is zeroed out with the appropriation bill.