MANILA, Philippines – Tuberculosis (TB) continues to pose as a serious public health emergency to the people. This fact has to be known by everyone so that proper actions can be initiated, implemented and sustained over time.
The Department of Health leads the annual celebration of World TB Day (WTBD) onat the Quezon Institute Compound, Quezon City with the Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial gracing this event. In this commemoration, the country adapts the theme, “SAMA-SAMANG TULDUKAN ANG TB!” based on the global theme, “Unite to End TB; Leave No One Behind!”. This aims to publicly spread the message of eliminating TB which remains an issue affecting the entire population and the urgent need to end the TB epidemic in our country.This is also one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2035.
In 2016, the National TB Program detected 294,907 and all of these have been started on treatment. For the past several years, the country has maintained nearly 90% Treatment Success rate. Recently, this was at 92%.
The Philippines is one of the nine high-burdened countries that have successfully achieved all three 2015 targets of the MDGs. Despite these achievements, however, TB remains to be the 8th leading cause of illness and death in the countryaccording to the 2016 Philippine Health Statistics.
This year marks the onset of a fundamental change in approach from TB control to TB elimination, and the implementation of the 2017-2022 Philippine Strategic TB Elimination Plan 1 or shortly known as PhilSTEP 1. This presents an opportunity where a call to a unified action against TB can be made amongst everybody – including government, stakeholders, private, high-risk populations and their families.
Alongside, the Philippine TB Caucus, patterned after the Global TB Caucus, has been launched last March 14, 2017. This group, chaired by Congresswoman Angelina Tan and vice-chaired by Congresswoman Estrellita Suansing and Congresswoman Sandra Eriguel, is crucial to our aim of eliminating TB because they can formulate policies/issuances to increase the investments on TB Control. As the leading TB advocates of the country, the Philippine TB Caucus continuously ensures sustainability of the program even with changing administration and membership. The Philippine Coalition Against TB (PhilCAT), being the largest coalition of TB, is technically supporting its operation.
The PhilCAT and World Vision Development Foundation, Incorporated are conducting TB education and advocacy efforts to continuously heighten the awareness on TB elimination. These efforts will be sustained together with the Program as we approach 2035.
Secretary Ubial emphasizes, “The DOH alone cannot win this fight against Tuberculosis, I am encouraging all to support the government’s actions to achieve this victory soon. All for Health towards Health for All. Achieve TB Elimination!” she concluded.