U.S., Philippines announce Php1.15-billion partnership to fight tuberculosis

The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH), announced Php1.15 billion ($21 million) in additional funding to combat the persistent threat of tuberculosis (TB) in the Philippines.  With more than 737,000 estimated new TB cases in 2022, the Philippines has one of the highest burdens of TB in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

USAID Deputy Administrator for Management and Resources Paloma Adams-Allen and DOH current Chief of Staff Undersecretary Lilibeth David jointly led the ceremonial signing of the partnership at the TB Active Case Finding Summit in Manila on March 21.  The additional funding consists of Php550 million ($10 million) from USAID and private sector partners for the Support Wide-scale Interventions To Find TB (SWIF-TB) initiative, and a matching commitment by DOH worth Php605 million ($11 million).

Through SWIF-TB, USAID and its partners will help expand ongoing efforts of local NGOs and private sector partners in fighting TB, such as providing payment vouchers for early TB screening; utilizing advanced technologies in TB testing; enhancing the ability of health advocates to find cases and support survivors; increasing the use of TB preventive treatment; and integrating TB screening with the testing of other lung diseases, HIV, and diabetes.  These efforts will help screen at least a million Filipinos for TB and ensure proper treatment of those afflicted with the disease.

“This is not just a funding opportunity—it is a call to action.  Combating tuberculosis demands a unified effort from the entire society, including civil society, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations.  We are proud to partner with the Philippines to combat TB,” USAID Deputy Administrator Adams-Allen said.

“The Department of Health stands firm in its dedication. To this end, we are pledging the government’s matching amount of around $11 million to strengthen primary healthcare services, enhance capacities, and fortify infrastructure.  Our goal is to accelerate universal access to TB care, leaving no one behind,” DOH current Chief of Staff Undersecretary Lilibeth David said.

The Philippines and Ethiopia were the only two countries worldwide selected to receive SWIF-TB funding.  The World Health Organization’s 2023 Global TB Report estimates 106 Filipinos die of TB every day.

“Together, the Philippine Government and USAID will amplify existing efforts, implement innovative case-finding strategies, expand preventative therapies, and ensure that everyone, especially the most vulnerable, has access to the care and treatment they need,” USAID Deputy Administrator Adams-Allen said.  “We will ensure that community health workers are paid a fair wage, another innovation under this critical project,”

SWIF-TB aims to help achieve the target set by the United Nations to find and treat 2.1 million TB cases in the Philippines by 2027.  As the world’s largest bilateral TB donor, USAID has invested more than Php260 billion ($4.7 billion) to combat TB since 2000, saving more than 75 million lives globally since 2000.