15th PHILCAT CONVENTION GATHERS RECORD NUMBER OF DELEGATES
The Convention was attended by more than 1,600 delegates from the public and private health sectors, with a substantial representation of doctors, nurses, health workers, Department of Health and PhilCAT members, other government agencies, private practitioners, paramedics and other health professionals in the country actively involved in TB control.
With the theme “Back to the Basics: Fulfilling the Promise of TB Control,” the Convention enabled the large number of attendees to enrich their knowledge by retrospection of basic concepts in a new perspective to enhance the quality of TB services provided in the country.
The gathering was formally opened with a keynote address by Secretary of Health Francisco T. Duque III, who emphasized the “need to reevaluate all efforts to see how the entire healthcare system can better respond to new challenges, while ensuring diagnosis and treatment are available and accessible to the people.”
He underscored the progress of the National TB Program and its efforts to surpass the global targets, namely, last year’s improved case detection rate of 75%, and 2006’s 91% success rate.
Sec. Duque also lauded PhilCAT’s untiring efforts in engaging the private sector in Directly-Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS), thus far the highly effective strategy to fight TB.
The Health Secretary also revealed that in-line with the government’s efforts to effect universal access of indigent, HIV-inflicted and multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB patients, the budget for the TB program was increased from 240 million pesos to 700 million pesos, which drew loud applauses from the delegates.
Following his message, DOH Director IV of the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control Dr. Yolanda Oliveros facilitated the Secretary’s Hour, where the Health Secretary had the chance to dialogue and address inquiries from the attendees, including the TB program’s allocated budget, issues on drug and laboratory supplies availability, childhood TB, PhilHealth reimbursements, referral mechanisms among physicians, and the enforcement of the comprehensive nutrition package for TB patients.
Afterwards, PhilCAT founding Chair Dr. Camilo Roa presided the formal signing of the endorsement of the International Standards for Tuberculosis Care, an international document of 17 evidence-based standards tailor-made for local settings, by Sec. Duque and different medical societies involved in TB care and TB control with their respective presidents, including the Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Philippine College of Occupational Medicine, Philippine College of Chest Physicians, Philippine Academy of Family Physicians, and the Philippine College of Radiology.
Dr. Pieter Van Maaren, a top official of the international Stop TB program, started the series of plenary sessions and symposia with his lecture on “Forecasting the Future of TB Control in the Philippines” by pointing out that the country is “light years ahead” in TB control compared to others countries with high TB burden, noting that “local progress in TB control is promising, and its goals are achievable, but the timeframe to achieve these depend on finances, political commitment, and technological advances.”
One of the most anticipated sessions was the 2007 National TB Prevalence Survey presented by principal investigator Dr. Thelma Tupasi of the Tropical Disease Foundation, where she noted a “significant decline” in the TB burden from 1997; that the generation of MDR-TB patients among previously treated cases has not increased, indicating (their) appropriate management through DOTS; and that there has been a slight increase in MDR-TB among treatment-naïve patients indicating that we may not have decreased the transmission.”
Dr. Tupasi pointed out that “for the country as a whole, the observed prevalence of culture-positive tuberculosis was 6.3 per thousand in persons aged 10 years or more, and the prevalence of smear-positive cases was 2.6 per thousand. These rates represent a 36% reduction of culture-positive PTB from the rate of 9.8 per thousand in 1997 and a 28% reduction in smear-positive disease from 3.6 per thousand in 1997. Assuming there were no cases in children aged less than 10 years who constituted 25.4% of the population, the prevalence in the total population was 4.7 per thousand for culture-positive and 2.0 per thousand population for smear-positive PTB.”
A series of lectures and luncheon symposia given by top medical stalwarts in TB care and control followed suit in the afternoon and the following day, which featured new approaches in various diagnostics and drugs, treatments, risk factors, screening guidelines, disease management, resource mobilization of the public-private partnership, policy and economic evaluations, DOTS in different settings, as well as the Cheaper Medicines Act and its impact on TB Control.
Together with then-PhilCAT Chair Dr. Ma. Imelda Quelapio, Sec. Duque led the ribbon-cutting ceremonies of the Convention’s exhibit hall where top local and multinational pharmaceutical companies provided mini-lectures, product samples and gift items to the delegates.
Dr. Quelapio stressed that the record number of delegates in this year’s PhilCAT convention “signified an increased interest and commitment from both the public and private sector,” and that local efforts in TB care and TB control have made a quantum leap in making headway into general consciousness which will eventually pave the way to ease the country’s burden of the disease.
"Look back" to the basics - view the 15th Annual Convention's photos.