Manila (USAID) –-The United States government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Stop TB Partnership donated a package of new tools for better tuberculosis (TB) services in the Philippines.
United States Embassy Charges d’Affaires Heather Variava handed over the new tools to Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho, health promotion director of the Department of Health (DOH) and Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian at an event in Valenzuela City on November 23. The Php 130 million ($2.6 million) package of tools is part of a global initiative called Introducing New Tools Project (iNTP).
“The Government of the United States of America is one with the Government of the Philippines in bringing TB care back on track,” said Chargés d’Affaires Variava. “These tools will bring TB primary care closer and more accessible to people.”
The iNTP package includes eight ultra-portable chest X-ray machines, 38 portable rapid diagnostic machines, Video Observed Treatment (VOT) to benefit 19,000 TB patients, and short-course medicines for TB prevention for 30,000 adults and children.
In a recorded message, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III underscored how primary care providers have continued TB services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “Despite the pandemic, we have started to increase the number of new and relapse TB cases notified to DOH, through the efforts of our frontline workers.” Beginning April 2021, new and relapse cases notified to DOH averaged 53,316 per quarter. In 2021, the average cases per quarter reached 74,448.
The donation package will support TB services in Valenzuela City and the provinces of Tarlac, Bataan, Laguna, Cebu, and South Cotabato.
Valenzuela City Mayor Gatchalian received the donation on behalf of other local chief executives. “With these new tools, our doctors, nurses, and medical technologists will have the chance to find more people with TB quickly, treat them effectively, and prevent infection in the timeliest manner,” he said.
The Philippines is one of seven countries selected to receive the iNTP package, along with Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nigeria, Kenya, and Democratic Republic of Congo. The World Health Organization’s 2021 Global TB Report lists the Philippines as one of 30 high TB-burden countries, with the highest TB incidence rate in Asia at 539 cases per 100,000 people.
This year, the United States and the Philippines are celebrating 75 years of diplomatic relations and 60 years of partnership through development through USAID. Through USAID, the United States and the Philippine governments work shoulder-to-shoulder to create a healthier, more resilient society for all Filipinos. (U.S. Embassy in the Philippines)