Issue of September 2, 2018
Mt. Province

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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U.S. infuses P2.5 B to stop tuberculosis cases in PHL
by Harley F. Palangchao

Cordillerans afflicted with tuberculosis, will benefit from the two five-year projects of the Unite States Agency for International Development worth over P2.5 billion to end TB in the country.

U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) Michael Klecheski and USAID launched the projects, namely the TB Innovations and TB Platforms recently, which were welcomed by the national government through the Department of Health.

TB Innovations, implemented by Family Health International 360, and TB Platforms, implemented by the University Research Corporation, aims to find and cure more TB cases in the country by supporting the DOH’s National TB Control Program and help local government units enhance their TB prevention and treatment measures. 

The projects will expand access to state-of-the-art TB detection technologies and encourage high-risk populations to seek and complete the necessary TB treatment.   

Approximately one million Filipinos currently have active TB, and many do not know they have the disease. Although TB is curable, at least 60 Filipinos die from the disease every day. 

TB can result in catastrophic costs to households and causes billions in economic losses in the Philippines each year.

“Eradicating TB in the Philippines is a crucial step for the country to achieve its development goals,” Klecheski said. 

“The U.S. government will continue to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the Philippine government to end TB.” 

Klecheski launched the projects alongside Health Sec. Francisco Duque III and Social Welfare and Development Asec. Glenda de Rama Relova. 

The event, which coincided with National Lung Month, drew more than 500 people and included free TB screenings and educational activities to teach residents about how to maintain healthy lungs.

“Our partnership with DSWD and USAID energizes the Department of Health’s work to provide equitable access to quality TB care and help alleviate poverty in our country,” Duque said.

DOH and the Department of Social Welfare and Development also launched the integration of the TB module into the DSWD family development sessions. 

These sessions will include classes on TB prevention, control, care, and treatment for recipients of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the national government’s conditional cash transfer program.

The new USAID projects bring the total cost of U.S. government contribution in support of DOH’s National Tuberculosis Control Program to over P6.5B. 

As a result of the U.S.-Philippine partnership, the number of TB patients diagnosed and treated in the Philippines has more than doubled since 2006. 

In February 2017, USAID Bureau for Asia Acting Asst. Administrator Gloria Steele told Filipino journalists that lowering cases of maternal and child mortality and tuberculosis in the Philippines remains one of the top priorities of USAID.

In 2010, the country has been ranked 9th among countries in the world with high TB cases. At least 75 of the 390,000 Filipinos with TB are dying daily from the curable disease.

As early as mid 2000’s, USAID has been providing technical assistance to the National TB program and works directly with high TB prevalence and low-performing provinces and cities throughout the country. USAID has supported researches in 41 countries including the Philippines to improve existing approaches to TB control and develop new tools to cure the illness.

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