In observance of World TB Day, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is partnering with the Department of Health (DOH) National Tuberculosis Control Program (NTP), Center for Health Development (CHD) – CALABARZON, and Fujifilm Philippines to improve tuberculosis (TB) case finding among hard-to-reach populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
USAID Philippines Office of Health Director Michelle Lang-Alli joined CHD-CALABARZON Regional Director Eduardo Janairo, DOH NTP Program Manager Anna Marie Celina Garfin, Fujifilm Philippines President Ryo Nagaoka, and others at the partnership launch in Cainta, Rizal on March 24.
Active TB case finding utilizes chest X-rays as the primary screening tool, but availability and cost of X-ray machines, and a lack of radiologists, pose a challenge. Under this new partnership, USAID will use a portable chest X-ray machine provided by Fujifilm to conduct TB screening in Region 4-A, with a focus on communities in remote areas.
“We are proud to support CHD-CALABARZON and LGUs in finding and treating TB patients, especially during COVID-19. We are pleased to partner with Fujifilm to boost the capacity of our community healthcare workers, especially in remote areas,” Lang-Alli said during the partnership launch. “We are excited that this innovation will undoubtedly help find more TB cases among populations unable to access timely health care.”
“Our community healthcare workers are committed to support their health offices and local government units in the continuous provision of TB diagnosis, care, and treatment, but we have to be innovative in finding these missing cases against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Janairo.
USAID continues to support the DOH NTP to achieve continuous TB diagnosis, care, and treatment during COVID-19, as well as DOH NTP’s programs engaging local chief executives to enact ordinances that prioritize TB and ensure budget appropriations for TB implementation in the coming years.