World TB Day, March 28, 2008
Marikina Sports Center
The Honorable Health Secretary, Dr. Francisco T. Duque, III, the Honorable Mayor of Marikina Ma. Lourdes C. Fernando, WHO Country Medical Officer Dr. Michael Voniatis, NCDPC Director Yolanda Oliveros, CHD-MM Director Asuncion Anden, NEC Director Eric Tayag, National Health Promotion Director Geli Sebial, NTP Manager Dr. Rosalind Vianzon, Tropical Disease Foundation President, Dr. Thelma Tupasi, PhilCAT Executive Director Ms. Amy Sarmiento, past chairs and members of the PhilCAT Board, Dr. Fe del Mundo, pillar of childhood TB, USAID Senior Technical Officer Meredith Gaffney, TB LINC Chief of Party Dr. Dolly Castillo, Governors of Rotary Club headed by Dr. Puno Pena, PCCP President Dra. Grace Ramos, PCP President Dr. Fernano Ayuyao, the 17 LGUs in Metro Manila, PPMD units, our dear TB survivors, distinguished guests and partners from the private and public sector in the fight against TB, good morning.
PhilCAT’s advocacy in partnership with DOH through WTBD celebrations started in 1996, 2 years after its founding and it usually begins with this usual gathering of partners. In 2005, we began to join hands with local government units for the reason that the LGUs are our strong allies in TB control being the level where patients really access TB care. We are very delighted to have Marikina City to be our partner this year because of the enthusiasm and drive it has always shown in the fight against TB. At this point, let me acknowledge the Mayor and her City Government including the City Health Office, with CHO Dr. Albert Herrera and the NTP coordinator Dr. Allan Fabella and all the DOTS facilities in Marikina who have helped in organizing World TB Day together with PhilCAT Board member Dr. Luz Revita, from the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians.
For the first time, this year, our joint advocacy reached out to young students most of whom I believe have not had any experience or have little knowledge of TB. Last March 1, 2008, an on-the-spot poster-making contest was held at the Marikina City Hall in partnership with the Philippine Academy of Physicians for School Health, Inc, (PAPSHI) and the Marikina City Government and the Center for TB in Children. With the theme, “Ako bilang mag-aaral, paano ako makakatulong sa.pagpigil ng tuberculosis?”, 17 elementary and 12 high-school students assembled by the Marikina City Department of Education participated in an interactive health education session followed by the poster-making contest expressing in art form their personal impression of TB and how they in their youth advocate for TB elimination. .
This morning started with a motorcade at two points in Marikina, in District 1 at the Riverbank Part, and in District 2 at the Loyola Park which converged here at the Marikina Sports Complex.
Simultaneously and around these dates, significant events are happening globally to celebrate this day. In the Philippines likewise, activities are being conducted to commemorate WTBD. In 16 regions in the Philippines, there are regional World TB Day celebrations are being conducted through the 70 PPMD units installed since 2003. In addition, launchings of about 30 more PPMD units were done in the recent days and about to be conducted in the next few days in different regions. I would also like to mention that on March 24 itself, the Tropical Disease Foundation, a member organization of PhilCAT and a strong partner of the NTP through the efforts of Dr. Thelma Tupasi with the help of philanthropists inaugurated its International TB Center, and added resource to the NTP which will both serve more patients and train more healthworkers on TB and MDR-TB in the country and in neighboring countries.
Later today, still as part of the World TB Day celebration, we will hold the fourth Forum for the Philippine Partnership convened by the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The Philippine partnership is a network of national partners, international organizations; public and private donors, government and non-government organizations and academic institutions committed to combat the three diseases of public health importance: TB, HIV/AIDS and Malaria. This forum to be held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) will provide a venue to share experiences and inform all sectors of society on the successes gained by the Department of Health in collaboration with partners supported by the GFATM. This will also be the venue for the nomination for membership to the CCM from the different sectors.
“I AM STOPPING TB”, this year’s global theme is not meant to be just a slogan but is intended to start a two-year campaign that belongs to people everywhere who are doing their part to Stop TB. The theme “I am stopping TB” is a statement that one can say with pride if he is a healthworker, a physician, nurse or BHW providing care to TB patients, or a laboratory worker examining sputum for diagnosis and follow-up. It is for private physicians referring TB cases to DOTS.facilities and for members of the community, serving as a treatment partners, or even just sharing what they know about TB to others.
But this statement is not just for those providing care to TB patients. This theme commemorates the lives and stories of people affected by the disease. “I am stopping TB” is for patients afflicted with TB who are actively participating in their own cure by taking all their anti-TB drugs. It is for family members providing moral, emotional and caring support to sick loved ones during their treatment course. It is for anyone directly or indirectly affected by the disease and is contributing to the fight. It therefore is also for people who help raise people’s awareness that TB is still a public health problem such as those in the media or teachers who educate their students about TB. It is for policy-makers, donors, scientists or researchers developing new tools for TB care. Indeed, there are many powerful ways to be part of the global fight against TB.
The local theme: “Stop TB…. Kaya mo, Kaya ko…. is very much related and is likewise a strong and empowering message for everyone in all sectors of society to remind us of the great contribution that each person can potentially give in the battle against TB which whe put together can spell the difference.
This picture of collective effort is very apt as we feel the threats of TB control creeping in our midst – multidrug resistance, extensive drug resistance, TB/HIV – they all make the fight more difficult, complex and demanding. But it is these challenges that make individual efforts matter, and every contribution count. Indeed, more than ever, we need one another as TB brazens us out with its dreaded forms.
March 24 is the day the TB bacillus was discovered but today, we celebrate our collaborative and growing efforts to fight TB. Indeed, there can be no better source of strength than the growth and rapid expansion that we see in the TB partnership in the country. Today we think about what we as individuals are doing to STOP TB and if in the past, we have been part of efforts to stop TB, today we consciously reflect on what MORE we can do in this battle. Let us commemorate World TB Day with the inspiration that in partnership, we all can STOP TB.