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Philippines gets P130 million worth of anti-TB drugs, equipment from US

The Department of Health (DOH) recently received P130 million worth of anti-TB medicines and equipment from the United States government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Stop TB partnership.

Through the “Introducing New Tools Project” (iNTP) global initiative, the donation hopes to support TB services in Valenzuela City, Tarlac, Bataan, Cebu, Laguna, and Cotabato.

The package includes eight ultra-portable chest X-ray machines, 38 portable rapid diagnostic machines, Video Observed Treatment (VOT).

The equipment is enough to benefit 19, 000 TB patients and provide short-course medicines for TB prevention for 30, 000 adults and children.

“The government of the United States is one with the government of the Philippines in bringing TB care back on track,” United States Embassy Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) ad interim Heather Variava said. 

“These tools will make TB primary care more accessible to Filipinos,”  she added.

Led by Variava, the distribution event held in Valenzuela was attended by DOH director Beverly Ho and Valenzuela City mayor Rex Gatchalian who received the donations on behalf of the country’s local executives.

“With these new tools, our doctors, nurses, and medical technologists will have the chance to find more people with TB quickly, treat them effectively, and prevent infection in the timeliest manner,” Gatchalian said.

The Philippines was one of the six beneficiaries of the iNTP program, along with Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nigeria, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The World Health Organization listed the Philippines among the 30 high TB-burden countries with the highest incidence rate in Asia at 539 cases per 10,000 people. The DOH reports averaging around 74,448 TB cases per quarter in 2021. —Jiselle Anne Casucian/LDF, GMA News