The country’s Department of Health (DOH) was awarded the title “TB Champion” by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for its “exemplary commitment and leadership” in the global fight against tuberculosis (TB) in the Philippines.
The Philippine ambassador to the United States, Jose Cuisia Jr., received the award in Washington, D.C., in behalf of the country on Tuesday, also World TB Day.
“We shall continue to provide quality health service to our citizens, especially the poor, consistent with the government’s Universal Health Care for Filipinos program,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Wednesday.
Each year, the USAID recognizes individuals, organizations or institutions “instrumental in the achievement of global TB targets.”
The US government leads the global fight against TB through the USAID and is the biggest contributor, supporting programs in 26 countries with the highest TB burdens.
USAID’s efforts resulted in a nationwide scale-up of treatment, as well as greater coverage and quality treatment for adults and children suffering from drug-resistant TB.
According to 2010 data, TB ranked as the 8th leading cause of sickness in the country.
In 2009, according to Philippine Health Statistics, the disease was the 6th leading cause of death.
At present, the Philippines is one of the seven among the 22 high-burdened countries that has achieved its 2015 Millennium Development Goal in TB as early as 2012, Health Secretary Janette Garin said at World TB Day observance at the Batangas Provincial Auditorium.
The other six countries are Brazil, Cambodia, China, Uganda, Tanzania and Vietnam.
Garin reported that there has been a significant decline in TB burden in the country since the launching of the DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course) strategy in 1996.
As of 2013, she said, TB-caused illnesses and deaths were reduced more than 50 percent from the 1990 baseline.
The success of the national TB program can be rooted in past efforts by the DOTS in implementing strategies such as Tutok-Gamutan, management of the multi-drug resistant TB, initiation of public-private mix DOTS, implementation of TB in children program and enhancements of DOTS through the adoption of the WHO-endorsed STOP TB strategy and improvement of services to groups most vulnerable to TB such as inmates and those living with HIV.
“We are on the right track. We are winning our battle against TB. Let us continue to be vigilant, let us do our part. Bawa’t pamilya, bawa’t Pilipino. may papel dito [Every family, every Filipino, has a role here],” Garin said.