In the Philippines particularly in the National Capital Region, TB is a major public health burden that requires collaborative approaches and synergistic efforts from different players such as the Department of Health, Local Government Units (LGUs), City/Municipal Health Offices, development partners, and the community in general. Studies have shown that TB cases are more concentrated in urban areas with high population density. The confluence of the social determinants of health such as poverty and poor access to basic health services also dictate the TB burden and the transmission of the disease.
The Culion Foundation, Inc. is one of the players helping combat the TB epidemic. It continually strengthens its engagement with the DOH, LGUs, development partners, and the community to ensure that services such as active case finding are delivered to the underserved and vulnerable members of the community. Through the ACF project, CFI aims to make TB screening available and accessible, especially to those at-risk groups who have no financial capability to avail of chest X-rays (CXR).
Collaboration with Muntinlupa City to combat TB
As part of its continuous engagement with the LGUs, the Culion Foundation, Inc. collaborated with Poblacion Health Center to conduct ACF at Magdaong Promised Land, Muntinlupa City.
Emphasizing the impact of ACF to the community, Dr. Rizmond Laniog, Medical Officer III from Muntinlupa CHO,stated that “Mga one year ago na yung unang project namin with Culion. Una kong narinig ang Culion from DOH and from our NTP Medical Coordinator, Dra. Tubon. Anong impact ni Culion sa Poblacion? Siyempre, tumaas yung bilang nang mga gustong mag-x-ray. Unang-una wala silang pera para sa x-ray at naging very convenient para sa kanila yung mismong proseso ng screening. Napadali yung pag-abot ng serbisyo na imbis na pumunta pa sila sa [Barangay] Putatan, nandito na mismo yung x-ray malapit sa kanila.”
The perceived financial cost associated with screening is just one of the concerns constraining uptake of TB services in the community. With assistance from CFI, the health center feels that they are now carrying less burden and someone is helping them with their cause.
Additionally, speaking on the impact of ACF in the barangay concerned, Dr. Laniog shared that CFI ACF has been a big help. He stated that “Nakita natin ‘yung support galing sa barangay. Directly, sa nakikita ko unang-una ay nagkakaroon ng awareness ang mga tao. Iyong kanilang mind power na imbis na magfocus pa sa mga ganitong activities, naibibigay na nila sa iba pang endeavors dahil nandiyan na si Culion na one stop shop na, may health education na tayo, may procedures, at may mga healthcare workers na tayo dito na makakasagot ng kanilang mga tanong at naiibsan ang kanilang mga pag-aalinlangan [tungkol sa TB].”
To leverage the ACF activity, CFI injected a health education component wherein staff were tasked to conduct TB 101 lectures and distribute IEC materials. Aside from screening, CFI also aims to raise community awareness that TB is curable and people that are diagnosed with TB should be supported and should not be discriminated against.
This leveraging of ACF activity also aligns with the direction of the Muntinlupa CHO wherein health information campaign is one of their strategies to combat TB. Dr. Laniog posited that the effectiveness of the various strategies against TB lies as well in the collaborative efforts among organizations and key players. He stated, “Isa sa mga sa tingin kong nagkukulang ang TB program ay ang campaign. Matagal ko na po itong dinudulog sa nasyonal at maganda na nandito kayo na naririnig namin na gusto ding tumulong. Malaking bagay po iyon sa amin.”
In addition, he is looking forward for a TB-ready and TB-informed community. He added “Isa talaga sa mga pangarap namin ay ang magkaroon ng TB-aware community. Tipong lahat ng tatanungin mong tao lalo sa mga adolescent dito sa lugar na ito ay may alam sa TB. Dito sana sa NCR magawa natin yung TB 101 kahit small version lang, kahit mga sampung tao lang para umaandar pa rin yung campaign.”
A Source of Inspiration
These types of narrative from our frontline workers may serve as a clarion call to harmonize efforts and inspire stakeholders concerned to accelerate efforts to eradicate TB. The impact of ACF as detailed in the stakeholder’s narrative highlights that the TB problem is a shared responsibility. The stories of those on the frontlines, those who have fought TB and won, and the recipients of TB projects should fuel the determination to work collaboratively.
Indeed, to achieve the ambitious goal of ending TB by 2030, it is imperative that all stakeholders unite their efforts and resources. These testimonials from key stakeholders such as the patients and the health workers are not mere words; they serve as a powerful source of inspiration, motivating the society to stand together in the fight against TB.
TB-ACF Project Officer Karlo David with Poblacion Health Center MOIII Rizmond Laniog
(L-R) NCR Team Leader Arjay Adamos, Notification Project Officer Miriam Gahon, TB ACF PO Karlo David, NCR-District 4 Field PO Jamiel Fernandez, representatives from Office of the Senior Citizen Association led by Josie Espeleta, and Midwife Marissa Sebastian