By Roy Mabasa
The United States government has vowed to continue supporting the Philippines’ efforts to combat tuberculosis (TB) by assisting the Department of Health to scale up high-impact approaches and introduce promising interventions to prevent, detect, and cure the disease.
This commitment was issued by US Ambassador to Manila Sung Y. Kim during a completion ceremony for the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) five-year, P1.5 billion tuberculosis project–Innovations and Multi-Sectoral Partnerships to Achieve Control of Tuberculosis (IMPACT).
At the event, Ambassador Kim also turned over technical assistance packages to Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to bolster the Philippine government’s ongoing efforts to eliminate TB in the country.
Based on latest available data, TB kills two to three Filipinos every hour. More than 1 million Filipinos have active TB and many are not even aware that they have the disease. TB patients and their households, on average, lose half of their annual incomes.
Since 2006, the Philippines has demonstrated a marked improvement in its capability to identify people infected with TB and provide them with life-saving treatment. The Philippines has also introduced new anti-TB medicines and shortened treatment regimens, boosting the number of patients cured of TB.
“Infectious diseases like TB can take a terrible toll on individuals, families, and communities,” explained Ambassador Kim. “The US government works closely with our Philippine counterparts to provide life-saving treatment to TB patients as soon as possible, so they can be cured of the disease.”
Through the IMPACT project, USAID worked with the Philippine government and in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress, to implement high-impact approaches to diagnose and cure TB.
Over the past decade, USAID has provided over P4 billion in financial and technical assistance to support DOH’s National Tuberculosis Control Program and the Philippine government’s goal of eliminating TB by 2035.