TB Source: DOH

Stronger nat’l program to fight TB pushed

March 26, 2024 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 154 views

AS the country joined in commemorating World Tuberculosis Day recently, a lawmaker pushed for a stronger national program to combat the rising cases of tuberculosis (TB) in the country.

AnaKalusugan Partylist Rep. Ray T. Reyes filed House Bill (HB) No. 9799 which seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 10767 or the Comprehensive Tuberculosis Elimination Plan Act.

“The previous global pandemic has highlighted that a lot of healthcare policies need to be updated and future-proofed,” Reyes said.

“TB has been a public health emergency for over three decades, yet we are nowhere close to its eradication. This bill aims to improve healthcare delivery systems that are continuous and can withstand external threats,” he added.

Reyes noted that there are only eight countries that account for 2/3 of the global cases of TB, with the Philippines contributing 7 percent of the global cases.

He also lamented how TB remains one of the leading causes of death in the Philippines, averaging 70 deaths daily.

“These numbers prove that there is a need to revisit the existing legislation regarding the Philippines’ response to TB,” Reyes said.

The lawmaker expressed support for the plans of the Department of Health (DOH) to deploy ultra-portable X-ray technology in remote areas, but he also recognized that much more needs to be done.

“There is a need to beef up education-driven campaigns and TB notification and monitoring,” Reyes said.

“Stigma surrounding the disease, availability of funds and medication, as well as places where treatment and medicine are easily procured must be addressed,” he added.

Currently, TB patients can avail of the PhilHealth Konsulta package which is a primary care benefit package that provides capitation payments for annual checkups, selected diagnostics, and medicines.

“Through the urging of Congress, Philhealth recently approved an increase in the fee or capitation rate of PhilHealth Konsulta to P1,700 per patient per year. However, this is hardly enough,” Reyes said.

Under the proposed measure, convergence of TB services and strengthening of service delivery network is given priority.

The measure also encourages private sector participation by recognizing CSR-related initiatives for TB elimination.

“Tuberculosis is an issue that involves different sectors and we cannot emphasize enough the importance of a holistic approach and collaboration in the fight against TB,” Reyes said.