The Republic of the Philippines is a sprawling archipelago of thousands of islands to the North of Indonesia. With a population of roughly one hundred million, the Philippines gained independence after World War II when it became one of the founding members of the United Nations. After a tumultuous introduction to democracy, the Philippines are now a stable presidential republic guided by its 1986 constitution. The Philippine economy is primarily based on tourism, electronic products, hydrocarbons and agricultural products, with thirty percent of the population working in agriculture.
Health in the Philippines
Healthcare in the Philippines is primarily supplied by the private sector, with less of a third of all healthcare provided by the government. The country struggles with an outflow of skilled healthcare workers, with a large majority of nursing graduates aspiring to work abroad.
Tuberculosis in the Philippines
Tuberculosis ranks as a top-five cause of death in the Philippines, claiming as many as 14,000 lives in 2015. Another complicating factor is the national HIV epidemic which claims the lives of an additional 4400 people who are co-infected with tuberculosis and HIV. The Philippines is among the 54 USG priority counties and is a high burden TB and MDR TB country. The Philippines is one of the forerunners to the private public mix (PPM) approach initiated by the Stop TB Strategy in 2005. Subsequently, the Philippines also has a very vibrant civil society that is engaged at all levels of health care including TB and HIV. However, there is a perceived need to enable more transparency and governance to bridge the gaps specifically between civil society and the government. Although the nation’s TB mortality rate has been steadily declining since the turn of the century, a large part of the National TB program’s budget comes from international funding and requires further effective investments to deliver sustainable results.
KNCV in the Philippines
KNCV’s presence in the Philippines is growing as a result of the Dutch-government funded ‘Improving TB/HIV Prevention & Care, building models for the future project’ which aims to bridge the gap between donor requirements and on the ground capabilities. Within the project, the Philippines is considered a ‘Pillar 1’country, based on in-country presence, capacities and perceived needs to strengthen engagement of the non-public sector.
- In collaboration with human rights and key population-oriented organization HIVOS, KNCV supports two avenues of intervention to ensure that patients affected by TB and or TB/HIV co-infection are identified early, have access to quality diagnosis and rapid initiation of treatment.
- Second, the ‘Love Yourself’ project strives to enhance HIV case finding, add TB diagnosis and treatment, and strengthen the existing patient support through volunteers and life coaches. Through ‘Love Yourself’, all clients who test positive for HIV and who go on to receive care, are screened at each health encounter for TB. Those that have TB will be provided quality medicines through the National TB Program.
- The Improving TB/HIV Prevention & Care, building models for the future project allows for the expansion of services, with agreed deliverables by the facility, such as a certain number of new TB cases diagnosed and successfully treated in a month or year, number of newly diagnosed HIV cases, and number of newly confirmed TB/HIV coinfections from either programs.