Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III on Thursday, September 26, delivered his address before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on the Philippines’ commitment to fight tuberculosis.
The UNGA is the main deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the United Nations (UN) which serves as a platform for providing equal representation of all member nations.
The overall theme of this year’s first UNGA High-level meeting on TB is “United to end tuberculosis: an urgent global response to a global epidemic.”
Secretary Duque joined world leaders and senior representatives in adopting a political declaration with commitments to accelerate action on eliminating tuberculosis.
According to Secretary Duque, “this high-level meeting sets the global mood to do things differently, especially if we want to win this longstanding war against TB.”

The health chief emphasized that Philippines is pursuing business “not-as-usual” in its fight against TB.
“Recognizing the need to modify the social determinants of TB and the need for the health sector to step up its leadership, the country in 2016 signed into law one of the most comprehensive global laws on TB. This created the High-level National Coordination Committee, which consists of 17 Secretaries or Ministers of various government agencies and heads of 5 private organizations. This very well reflects the fact that TB is as much a socio-economic issue, as it is a health issue,” Secretary Duque said.

 He added that appreciating advances in TB screening, diagnosis, and treatment, the country is scaling up rapid molecular tests as the initial diagnostic test countrywide.

“With a highly devolved and fragmented public health system and with as much as a third of TB care rendered by the private sector, managing our TB burden will only be possible with reliable information to hold key stakeholders and providers, in particular, accountable,” the health secretary said.