USAID’s TB Platforms project provides health education vs TB, COVID-19
PASIG CITY, June 9 (PIA) – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its TB Platforms project, continuously provide health education against tuberculosis (TB) and COVID-19.
Dr. Hansel John Ybañez, USAID TB Platforms’ Field Operations Area Manager for NCR on Sunday discussed over Radyo Pilipinas about the USAID TB Platforms project.
“Ito pong TB Platforms for Sustainable Detection, Care and Treatment ay isang project ng USAID. Ito po ay ini-implement po dito sa Pilipinas ng University Research Company,” said Dr. Ybañez
Dr. Ybañez said that the five-year project which started in 2018 aims to eradicate TB in the country by 2022.
“Ang pangunahing layunin po ng project na ito ay tumulong sa national TB control program ng Department of Health para po mapabilis at puspusin ang pagsisikap na ginagawa po ng ating Natinal Tuberculosis Control Program sa tuluyang pag-alis o mapaalis ang TB sa ating bansa by year 2022.”
Dr. Ybañez that the project is currently being implemented in the National Capital Region, Region III, Region IV-A, and a special project in Marawi City.
According to Dr. Ybañez the TB Platforms project has three objectives, first is to improve healthy behaviors to prevent, detect and treat TB.
“Ang layunin po nito ay mabago ang perception ng ating mga kababayan pagdating po sa TB. Nagbibigay po kami ng mga information about TB – na ang TB po ay nagagamot at ang gamutan po nito ay libre,” Dr. Ybañez explained.
Another objective of the program is to bolster patients’ center TB and DOTS-resistant TB treatment for the elderly, children, the vulnerable groups, and those considered with high risk of having TB.
“Ito po ay based on the patient’s center care approach. So ang gamutan po ngayon ay hindi na ho katulad dati na masyadong istrikto. Ang ginagawa po natin ay ang gamutan po ay base sa convenience ng ating pasyente,” adding that this approach is to make sure that TB patients continue and finish their treatment.
He added that the project also aims to expand local health capacity to deliver TB and the RTB services to targeted populations, in partnership with local chief executives to strengthen the TB program in their LGUs.
On the other hand, Dr. Ybañez mentioned that there are some patients who discontinue their medication.
“Nakakalungkot man pero nangyayari pa rin ang ganyan. Ang mga pasyente ‘pag talagang tumigil, pwedeng mauwi sa drug-resistant TB. Kaya’t mas mahirap po talagang gamutin ito.”
TB cases in the Philippines
Dr. Ybañez also noted that incidence rate of TB in the country is still high or about 554 cases in every 100,000 Filipinos.
“Malaki pa rin talaga ang ating dapat gawin o trabahuin pagdating po sa TB,” he stressed.
To further the project, Dr. Ybañez also said that they are partnering with other agencies like the Philippine Business for Social Progress, with city health offices of the local government units in the NCR and in other provinces, other private organizations, and with government agencies.
TB Response amid COVID-19
The USAID TB Platforms’ Field Operations Area Manager for NCR also cited that the TB Platforms provided technical assistance to cities and provinces in the country during the quarantine period to ensure continuity of the TB services.
“Ang TB Platforms po ay gumawa ng mga technical assistance packages para po matiyak na patuloy po ang TB services sa ating mga cities at mga provinces. Meron pong ilang packages na ginagawa po ngayon using the TB Platforms in support to the objectives.”
Among the techical services being provided are webinars on TB in the workplace and webinars on Infection, Prevention, Control for TB and COVID-19. He mentioned that USAID recently partnered with the Philippine Heart Center for the conduct of a webiner on infection prevention and control for tuberculosis (TB) and COVID-19.
Dr. Ybañez also mentioned the remote monitoring and mentoring for DOTS facilities and with the satellite treatment centers for drug-resistant TB patients.
He added that one of the technical assistance being provided is the continuous monitoring of supply chain management.
“Patuloy po naming mino-monitor ang mga TB medications at TB commodities, including PPEs.”
TB and COVID-19
Meanwhile, Dr. Ybañez stressed that TB response is very important citing that the World Health Organization (WHO) released an information note stating that while the COVID-19 pandemic continues, there will be a 25 percent reduction on TB case finding.
“Kapag ito po ay nangyari, maaari pong maraming kababayan natin na merong aktibong TB ang lumala at mauwi po sa death. So, ang projected po nila (WHO), kung ito ay magpapatuloy at wala pong mga measures na gagawin or interventions, pwede po tayong bumalik five years ago pagdating po doon sa estado ng ating TB deaths… Kaya very important po na matiyak po natin na continuous ang TB services dito sa ating bansa.”
Support System vs TB
Dr. Ybañez called on TB patients to continue to coordinate with their TB treatment supporters or partners and health care providers in DOTS facilities to ensure recovery from the illness as he reiterated that TB can be treated.
He also encouareged families to support their patient to continue with their medication to ensure recovery from TB. Likewise, he encouraged health workers to continue to provide TB services following the infection, prevention and control measures to prevent further spread of TB and COVID-19.
Importance of information dissemination
The health expert noted the importance of information dissemination about TB to avoid social stigma and discrimation on TB patients. (USAID/PIA-NCR)