MANILA, U.S. Embassy in the Philippines -- In celebration of National Lung Month, the U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is supporting the Quezon City local government to strengthen tuberculosis (TB) detection efforts by integrating free TB screening at select COVID-19 booster vaccination sites in the city.
USAID Philippines Acting Mission Director Rebekah Eubanks joined House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Department of Health (DOH) Officer-in-Charge Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire, and Quezon City Vice Mayor Gian Sotto in launching integrated TB screening and booster vaccination activities at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City on August 22.
“The U.S. government continues to demonstrate its commitment to help the Philippines achieve its development goals, and more importantly, survive this pandemic that has hampered economic activities and continues to affect the health of Filipino families,” said Acting Mission Director Eubanks. “Together, we are forging stronger public-private partnerships to bolster health response efforts for both TB and COVID-19.”
House Speaker Martin Romualdez thanked USAID for its partnership and reiterated Congress’s support of TB and COVID-19 prevention efforts. “Our role in Congress will be to engage our peers to allocate funds for sustainable TB detection, care, treatment and prevention,” said Speaker Romualdez. “We will include the integration of TB and COVID-19 efforts in our agenda.”
To support the Philippine government’s TB and COVID-19 prevention efforts, USAID is training healthcare workers on TB and COVID-19 infection prevention and control and offering workshops on community TB screening and contact tracing. USAID is also offering free chest x-rays, referring TB presumptive individuals for treatment, and working with the Quezon City Health Office to disseminate information about TB prevention and control.
“Through this program, TB screening will be more accessible to high-risk communities. We will be able to reach out to a greater number of individuals and provide them access to treatment,” said Vice Mayor Gian Sotto. “Here in Quezon City, we will work hard to strengthen our TB response.”
Sotto also underscored the importance of the joint efforts of the Philippine government and private partners to end TB amid COVID-19. “We are very appreciative as well of the additional resources from USAID and URC and their partner, Advance Abilities. Through their assistance, our work here in Quezon City will not be as difficult.”
Since the pandemic began, the U.S. government has invested more than Php 2.8 billion ($50 million) in the Philippines’ COVID-19 response. USAID has also equipped the Department of Health and local government partners with Php 130 million pesos ($2.3 million) worth of innovative tools for TB detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
For more than 60 years, USAID has worked with the Philippine government and local organizations to achieve shared development goals, investing more than Php 247.5 billion ($5.1 billion) to support the Philippines since 1961.