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PH on USAID priority list in anti-TB drive

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has been named one of the 20 priority countries of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the Washington, D.C.-based agency’s worldwide campaign against tuberculosis (TB).

Gloria D. Steele, the Filipino-American USAID mission director, has confirmed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer the inclusion of the Philippines on the agency’s anti-TB campaign list of “Tier 1 countries.”

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Also on the list are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Ukraine, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

USAID, which is celebrating its 50th year of active involvement in the Philippines, also supports anti-TB programs in the following countries: Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bolivia, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Georgia, Ghana, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Mexico, Namibia, Peru, Senegal, Southern Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

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Priority countries are “selected to receive bilateral support for TB based on the prevalence of the disease, potential for anti-TB drug resistance, and case detection and treatment success rates,” said a USAID report.

Political commitment

“Political commitment and technical and managerial feasibility are also considered in country selections,” said the same report.

Steele said USAID was strengthening its TB monitoring and evaluation system in the Philippines “with the country’s Millennium Development Goals in mind.”

“Everything we do is in coordination with the Department of Health,” she noted.

The Philippines has the ninth highest TB burden in the world. With over 105 Filipinos dying of TB every day, it has become the country’s sixth leading cause of death and illness.

The majority of TB cases here are “found in those between the ages of 15 and 54, impacting not only the health of the person infected but the economic stability of his or her family and community,” said USAID.

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TB is a bacterial infection caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The disease usually affects the lungs but can spread to other parts of the body in serious cases. An individual can become infected with TB when another person who has active TB coughs, sneezes or spits.

However, not all people who become infected with TB will develop symptoms. Those who do not become ill are referred to as having latent TB and cannot spread the disease to others.

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TAGS: disease, Foreign aid, health treatment
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