World TB Day Commemoration at the Quezon Memorial Circle
In the 1950s, Quezon Memorial Circle was built in memoriam of late President Manuel L. Quezon. Sixty years later, TB advocates observed the World TB Day in this very national shrine, bringing into mind the late President and the thousands of others who died and are still afflicted with the curable disease, tuberculosis.
With the theme, “Isulong ang laban sa TB sa makabagong paraan”, the Philippine Coalition Against Tuberculosis (PhilCAT) with the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP) led the masses of government officials, public and private healthcare providers, members of civil society, and representatives from funding agencies in a united effort to build a stronger front against the enemy that has long been fought by their patients, family, friends and neighbors.
The observance was solemnized with a holy mass, celebrated by Rev. Fr. Cyrus Banque, CMF. In his homily, he underscored that the “truth will set you free” – and that is, he urged everyone to know the truth about TB, and look deeper into it so they can all respond accordingly to the demands of the truth.
A significant highlight of the celebration was the participation of some 18 PhilCAT members in the slogan cheering contest. Most came well prepared with their appealing chants about the efficacy of the DOTS strategy, their organization and what it does to cure TB. Eventually, under distinguished panel of judges, the Center for TB in Children Philippines, Center for Health Development-Metro Manila, and the Bureau of Jail Management & Penology emerged victorious, bagging the 1st, 2nd and third prizes, respectively.
Quezon City incumbent Mayor Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte welcomed everyone to the landmark of the city and conveyed his enthusiasm for holding the World TB Day celebration. Recalling his personal experience of TB and how it affected some members of his family, he accentuated three crucial learnings about the disease - TB afflicts both the rich and the poor; carelessness on the part of the patient (i.e. by not taking TB medicines religiously) could spread the disease; and TB is treatable with proper care.
PhilCAT Chairperson Dr. Elizabeth V. Cadena gave the opening remarks, positing that 2010 signals the halfway point of the Global Plan to Stop TB, at the same time Year of the Lung. For her, it is the year of reckoning to see if previous efforts have been enough to curb the spread of TB. In retrospection, she observed that considerable progress has indeed been made in the past but there is a need to fast track all efforts, and seek new and innovative ways in order to attain our target of halving TB by 2015. She suggested certain innovations to meet this goal, which included among others, conducting researches on TB management and control, gaining better access to treatment, and raising awareness. She enjoined everyone to shift gears and work strongly together in the fight against this deadly disease.
Woojin Lew, Medical Officer of the World Health Organization (WHO) thanked PhilCAT for coordinating important events such as WTBD. According to him, in terms of the six components in the STOP TB campaign, Philippines has done quite well in accomplishing them. However, he stressed that there is a need to do more, and to do it better and faster. He called everyone to scale up their efforts and continue to seek new and innovative ways to stop TB in order to achieve our targets. In the end, he assured of WHO’s continuing support behind all efforts against TB.
USAID Deputy Mission Director Roger Carlson saluted the crowd for working together. Despite the great strides, for him, there’s still a lot to be done in the face of recent and more urgent challenges. He assured that the U.S. government has and will remain one of the country’s strongest allies in defeating TB.
DOH Assistant Secretary Nemesio T. Gako in his keynote speech thanked all partners in TB control, and emphasized that without their collective response, the significant milestone of reaching 70% Case Detection Rate (CDR) and 85% Treatment Success Rate wouldn’t be achieved by the program. He called on them to be more vigilant, and to sustain such achievements in order to eventually rid the country of TB. For the government’s part, he assured everyone that DOH remains steadfast in its commitment of effectively implementing the TB control program.
A short-film festival contest was conducted beforehand, and under the Chairmanship of PhilCAT Board of Director Dr. Jose Hesron Morfe, who also served as Master of Ceremonies for the festivities, judged NTRL TB Study Group and St. Luke’s Medical Center winners of 2nd and 3rd prizes, respectively.
The half-day celebration was capped off with a press conference, attended by key DOH personnel and representatives from PhilCAT, PCCP and LCP.
Kindly click the PHOTO GALLERY section for the WTBD 2010 photos.