By Analou De Vera
The United States government has provided $ 50 million in aid to the Philippines to intensify its efforts to combat tuberculosis.
The Department of Health (DOH) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched two new projects on Friday to support the country's interventions in tuberculosis (TB) at regional, local and community level.
The two projects; TB platforms and TB innovations are both five-year USAID projects in the Philippines with a combined budget of $ 50 million. These will help the DOH to intensify the National Tuberculosis Control Program, with the main goal of completely eliminating the TB disease in the country by 2035.
TB platforms aim to "increase the tuberculosis and drug resistance of cases of detection and treatment success by strengthening essential support and cross-links in TB interventions in communities."
The TB Innovations project is now focused on "applying advanced technologies and approaches to detecting cases, appropriate treatment search behavior and treatment adherence interventions for vulnerable and high-risk populations."
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that about one million Filipinos are estimated to have the disease and may not even know this. In the meantime, at least 60 Filipinos die of tuberculosis every day.
"[TB is] an old disease that destroyed the lives of almost 40,000 Filipinos in the early 1900s. The burden of tuberculosis is still high among Filipino adults and more than a hundred years later and is even higher than previously estimated, "Duque said during the launch of projects in the Holy Spirit, Quezon City yesterday.
Michael Klecheski, deputy head of mission at the American embassy in Manila, said the projects will contribute to the long-term effort and partnership between the two nations.
Klecheski said his country "shoulder to shoulder" will continue to work with the Philippine government in the fight against tuberculosis.
"We have already heard it [that] TB demands a huge toll from individuals, families and communities. It influences economic growth, social stability and health security. We are fighting a TB, "Klecheski said.
The US official said the projects will serve as a partnership of funds, efforts and technical expertise, saying his country shares the Philippine government's vision of a healthier and more prosperous country.
"Through these projects, the USAID will continue to work closely with key national departments, local authorities, healthcare providers, civil society partners and others to do what we can to combat this TB problem," he said.
"We all know that there is still a lot of work to be done and that is why we are here today because more than one million Filipinos have active TB," added Klecheski.