The Department of Health (DOH), in coordination with the Philippine Coalition Against Tuberculosis, takes part in the worldwide observance of World TB Day this Sunday, March 24 with the theme, “#EndTBNowNa!”
Tuberculosis (TB) remains an epidemic in developing countries, such as the Philippines. This year’s observance aims to remind member countries of the commitments made during the United Nations High Level Meeting on TB held last year where the Philippines declared that it is pursuing business “not-as-usual” in its fight against TB.
According to the 2017-2022 Philippine Strategic TB Elimination Plan Phase 1, the impact targets against TB for 2022 include the reduction of the number of TB deaths by half from 22,000 to 11,000; 23% reduction in the TB incidence rate; reduction to zero in the number of TB-affected households that experience catastrophic costs due to TB; and, at least 90% patient satisfaction with TB services.
World TB Day will emphasize the urgency to act on the commitments made by each country during the United Nations High Level Meeting held in September last year.
“Due to advances in TB screening, diagnosis, and treatment, the country is scaling up rapid molecular tests as the initial diagnostic test countrywide,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III declared as its initial salvo in the fight against the disease. With this, the country committed to find and treat 2.5 million TB cases by 2022. We have to do this to decrease the incidence of TB by 23%.
The country also committed to create the high-level National Coordination Committee to address the social determinants of TB. We need to address the needs of the TB patients beyond health. The committee had their first meeting last March 5, 2019. Through this committee, the DOH aims to gain support from the different sectors of the government and the private sector to put together a national effort to win the war against TB
Furthermore, a commitment was also made to implement the Mandatory Notification of TB cases as required by RA 10767, the Comprehensive TB Elimination Law. By end of 2018, more than 30,000 TB cases were reported by the private physicians.
Thus, on March 24, various stakeholders are expected to articulate their plans of action in the country’s efforts against TB. Among them are the patient group organizations, hospital sector, professional societies, pharmacy sector, workplace sector, laboratory sector as well as the academe.
“The time to act is now. Managing the TB burden towards eliminating it is our call to action to our stakeholders and partners. We need to Find, Treat and Prevent TB. Let us end TB now!” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.