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RP’s TB control program strengthens as USAID reaffirms support to NTP

The Philippines currently carries the 9th largest burden of tuberculosis (TB) in the world. 2010 data showed that approximately 390,000 Filipinos have TB, and 75 people die daily from this curable disease.

At present, the Department of Health’s (DOH) National TB Program (NTP) is the government’s commitment to address the TB problem in the country and its main strategy is to use the Directly-Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS) to detect and cure TB patients. Significant progress was recorded since the Philippines adopted the DOTS strategy in 1996. In 2003, DOH reported that all public health centers in the country were able to deliver DOTS services.

To strengthen the NTP, the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) reaffirmed its commitment to help the Philippines implement TB prevention and control activities.

 “We are collaborating with the NTP and the DOH in strengthening the public and private sectors’ capacities to implement DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment, Short-Course), the internationally recommended strategy for TB control,” said USAID/ Philippines Mission Director Gloria Steele.

The USAID’s Linking Initiatives and Networking to Control Tuberculosis (TB LINC) Project, a USAID-funded, DOH-led initiative launched in 2006, provides technical assistance to the National TB Program and works directly with high TB prevalence and low-performing provinces and cities throughout the country, including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

TB LINC aims to improve policy, financing and regulatory environment for DOTS implementation; systems capacity for quality DOTS implementation; utilization of DOTS facilities and services for TB control and treatment.

“The United States will keep on working with our partners to fight this disease. We are supporting programs that are saving lives and fostering a more secure world, focusing our efforts in countries where the burden of the disease is highest,” added Ms. Steele.

USAID also backs researches in 41 countries to improve existing approach to TB control and develop new tools at country level. In 2011, 3.8 million tuberculosis cases were detected in countries supported by USAID, a 51 percent increase since 2000.