Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe conferred a certificate of commendation to the Research Institute of Tuberculosis/Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association (RIT/JATA) on November 19 at the Ambassador’s residence in Makati City.
Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most life threatening diseases infecting millions of people worldwide. The fight against TB continues to be a major global health concern. Even developed countries like Japan, cannot lower its guard against this infectious disease. In the Philippines, approximately 140,000 people get registered as TB patients, and it is estimated that approximately 30,000 people lose their lives every year.
TB has killed many people in Japan in the past. JATA was established in 1939 by a special decree from Her Majesty the Empress in order to fight the disease. The Research Institute of Tuberculosis (RIT) is one of JATA’s facilities.
JATA started programs to enhance the anti-TB capacity of Cebu province in 1992. The programs included the establishment of Cebu Regional Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory as well as training of local health officials in Cebu. In 1997, the program was subsequently expanded to the whole Region 7, and further into the City of Manila and Quezon City in 2002 through projects with JICA and DOH. One of the results of the project is a manual handbook for field workers engaging in monitoring and survey.
The incidence rate of TB in the Philippines continues to be relatively high especially among informal settlers. These people lack financial means and facilities even for basic health care. Since this is compounded by the inaccessibility of health workers to enter these areas, The RIT/JATA Philippines or RJPI was established in response to the needs of the underprivileged communities in urban areas. With the tagline “Stop TB para sa Lahat”, RJPI focuses on raising awareness on TB, targeting the urban poor communities in Tondo, Manila and Payatas in Quezon City.
The RJPI has built a network with selected Philippine NGOs and key officials in Manila and Quezon City. The network has allowed sharing of information about the patients. Periodic classes were held in Barangay halls and schools to promote public awareness. To date, 26 doctors, 108 nurses and 487 volunteers have been trained on TB treatment. RJPI also serves as a facilitator in the development of training modules for the Philippine Tuberculosis Control Program of the Global Fund.
The RJPI is expected to continue an active role in further strengthening the close and friendly relations between Japan and the Philippines by ensuring the general well-being of urban poor communities.