May 23, 2024

The Philippines and the United States have agreed to put up P1.15 billion in additional funding to combat the threat of tuberculosis (TB) in the Philippines, the U.S. Embassy in Manila said.

The funding consists of P550 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and private sector partners for the Support Wide-scale Interventions To Find TB (SWIF-TB) initiative, and P605M from the Department of Health.

USAID Deputy Administrator for Management and Resources Paloma Adams-Allen and DOH current Chief of Staff Usec. Lilibeth David led the ceremonial signing of the partnership on March 21.

Through SWIF-TB, USAID and its partners will expand the ongoing efforts of local non-government organizations and the private sector in fighting TB.

These include providing payment vouchers for early TB screening; utilizing advanced technologies in TB testing; enhancing the ability of health advocates to find cases and support survivors; increasing the use of TB preventive treatment; and integrating TB screening with the testing of other lung diseases, human immunodeficiency virus, and diabetes.

The US Embassy said these efforts would help screen at least a million Filipinos for TB and ensure proper treatment of those afflicted with the disease.

“Together, the Philippine government and USAID will amplify existing efforts, implement innovative case-finding strategies, expand preventative therapies, and ensure that everyone, especially the most vulnerable, has access to the care and treatment they need,” Adams-Allen said.

“We will ensure that community health workers are paid a fair wage, another innovation under this critical project,” she said.

With more than 737,000 estimated new TB cases in 2022, the Philippines has one of the highest burdens of TB in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

David, for her part, said the DOH is committed to the partnership which is expected to strengthen TB care.

“Our goal is to accelerate universal access to TB care, leaving no one behind,” she said.

The US Embassy said the Philippines and Ethiopia were the only two countries worldwide selected to receive SWIF-TB funding.

The project aims to achieve the United Nations target of finding and treating 2.1 million TB cases in the Philippines by 2027.

The WHO’s 2023 Global TB Report estimates that 106 Filipinos die of TB every day.

As the world’s largest bilateral TB donor, the Embassy said USAID has invested more than P260 billion to combat TB since 2000, saving more than 75 million lives globally since 2000. – PNA