25 March 2021

Secretary Duque cited figures from a projection study of the Imperial College of London that looked into the effects of severe disruptions in TB services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The study was made as DOH revised its national strategy in finding and starting TB treatment for as many Filipinos with TB as possible.

Secretary Duque underscored how an urgent TB response is a reflection of Universal Health Care Act in action. “The UHC Act envisions an equitable health system where every Filipino can access appropriate and quality health care without financial hardship. Through the UHC and re-energizing our TB response, we can fulfill our promise of treating 2.5 million Filipinos with tuberculosis by the end of 2022,” said Duque.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go echoed this concern as he pledged to oversee the amendment of the National TB Elimination Act. Senator Go filed Senate Bill 1748, seeking to change several provisions of the current TB law, including the enhancement of the TB benefits package of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). “Addressing TB in the country is a priority health agenda of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte,” said Go.

DOH reported that, in 2020, TB case notification rates dropped by as much as 35% as COVID-19 restrictions prevented persons affected by TB to seek care from public and private health facilities. Working with partners, DOH implemented measures to ensure currently treating patients have access to at least one month’s supply of anti-TB medicines and respond to challenges of health care in a COVID-19 pandemic setting.

Supported by USAID’s TB Innovations and Health Systems Strengthening Project, #TBFreePH is DOH’s communication campaign, aiming to elevate TB as a public health priority in the country through various platforms in social and traditional media.