The other fight against cancer: tax justice for women´s health
Although cervical cancer is the second leading cause of death for women in Peru and each year 1,200 women die from breast cancer, the Peruvian government fails to receive more than S/. 34 million (US$ 10 million) for tax exemptions for 12 medications and supplies for the treatment of this deadly disease.
According to a study carried out by Acción Internacional para la Salud (AIS) and OXFAM, for the years 2016 and 2017 the tax exemptions for 12 cancer medications in Peru could have covered the treatment of 1,116 women with cervical cancer or 950 with breast cancer in the most advanced states.
According to the study, Peru's health expenditure as a percentage of total GDP is still below the average for the OECD and Latin American countries. It is estimated that in general, exemptions, exceptions, deductions or other tax benefits reach S/. 16.5 billion per year (US$ 5 billion), which is almost double the Ministry of Health budget for 2018.
Existing budgetary constraints have serious consequences for the population and particularly for women and girls. Only this year the National Health System estimates that 7,489 cases of cervical cancer will be treated, which requires a public investment of S/ .54 million. However, for this same period, the Ministry of Health, the National Health System, and the National Institute of Cancer Diseases (INEN) only received 47% of the required amount (S/ .28 million) putting at risk the lives of thousands of women.
The other war against cancer is that of fiscal justice: that of the fight for the financing of prevention policies, which allow not only early detection, but also the improvement of health coverage and services. Therefore, the study proposes to rationalize tax exemptions, ensuring that they effectively benefit the population, are discussed with transparency and are based on cost-benefit studies. Evaluating tax exemptions for medicines, to correct existing distortions and ensure the positive impact on users and patients, as well as limiting tax fraud, regulating tax evasion and pursuing tax evasion, are some of the urgent measures.