Before the COVID-19 pandemic, tuberculosis (TB) was the number one cause of death among infectious diseases globally.
Today, it remains a major public health concern. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Philippines is among the top 30 countries with the highest burden of TB.
In 2018, the Government of the Philippines committed to find and treat 2.5 million Filipinos with TB. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic ensued, the number of TB cases reported to the Department of Health (DOH) significantly decreased. In 2021, only 311,886 TB cases were notified to the DOH. If fewer TB cases are detected and started on treatment, the chance of the spread of TB infection increases.
In 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Executive Order Number 187 entitled “Instituting a Comprehensive and Unified Policy for the Tuberculosis Control in the Philippines.” By virtue of this issuance, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was enjoined to contribute efforts in controlling and eliminating TB in the country.
In 2016, the DOH conducted the National TB Prevalence Survey. The survey found that a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) is 1.6 times more likely to get sick of TB than a non-beneficiary. Hence, in 2016, the DSWD pilot-tested a Family Development Session guide on TB awareness in San Juan City, Bataan, and Cavite.