Tuberculosis (TB) continues to affect millions of people around the globe, with an annual mortality rate that is higher than HIV and malaria combined. In the Philippines alone, there are over 539 active cases of TB for every 100,000 Filipinos. This makes it a major public health problem in the country.
In observance of World TB Day, the Department of Health (DOH), together with the Philippine Coalition Against Tuberculosis (PhilCAT) and Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. (J&J Philippines), conducted a webinar focused on raising awareness on the disease to encourage more Filipinos to take a proactive approach in battling TB in the country. The event entitled Sama Sama TB ay Labanan, Para sa Ligtas na Buhay at Kalusugan is part of the group’s collaborative efforts to find and treat around 2.5 million Filipinos with TB by end of year, according Dr. Winston Palasi, Medical Officer IV of DOH’s Infectious Disease Division.
He said: “Our enhanced case finding strategy makes us optimistic that we can end TB in the country. Together with our partners, we continue to run nationwide programs aimed at getting potential patients to seek professional consult and receive proper care.”
“Aside from improved access to diagnostic services and treatment, we are also educating people with TB on how they can properly care for themselves so that they do not become active cases again in the future. We are also teaching them how to help contain its spread through simple yet effective measures such as working from home and avoiding public transportation, restricting travel among TB patients who are quickly become non-infectious provided they take the drugs.” added Dr. Camilo Roa, President of Philippine Tuberculosis Society Inc.
TB can be deadly, but it is curable and preventable. According to Dr. Rontgene Solante, Chairman of the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Fellowship Program of San Lazaro Hospital: “Maintaining good personal hygiene and leading a healthy lifestyle are surefire ways to avoid contracting the disease.”
”There’s a simple need of providing access to information so that many Filipinos will be more aware about this communicable disease and we can encourage them to become tuberculosis advocates as well. Our group has been successfully rolling out projects such as TB literacy trainings, so that more people will take part in this movement to end TB in our country soon,” shared Ma. Eloisa “Louie” Zepeda-Teng, Founder and President of TBpeople Philippines Organization Inc.
J&J looks to empower youth as the generation to end TB
The youth comprises more than 40% of the Philippine population, making them valuable assets in the fight to end TB. By harnessing their potential as agents of change, they can help pave the way for a safer, healthier Philippines that is free of TB. This is what J&J Philippines has set out to do in 2022 together with its local and global partners.
“Our vision is to be able to turn the youth from targets into advocates or what we call #TuberculosisWarriors,” said Stephanie Lao, Global Public Health Manager at J&J Philippines. “We are excited to roll out a series of initiatives that will empower the youth to take charge of the country’s TB trajectory. The first phase will be headlined by #TuberculosisWarriors game filters on social media, which they can use to learn more about TB and spread awareness on the disease with their family and friends in a fun and engaging way.”
“Enabling the youth’s access to TB care and equipping them with the right tools to influence others to act will help accelerate our progress towards curbing the statistics on this deadly epidemic. Their meaningful participation in efforts to combat TB will also contribute greatly to achieving the larger, global goal of ending TB by 2030,” ended Dr. Erwin Benedicto, Head of Medical Affairs at J&J Philippines.