U.S. reaffirms commitment to eradicating TB in the Philippines

On World Tuberculosis Day on Saturday, the United States reaffirmed a commitment to eradicate tuberculosis in the Philippines, which is currently ninth in the world in number of cases of the infectious disease.

Gloria Steele, the mission director of the US Agency for International Development in the Philippines, said that USAID was working with the government to put TB prevention and control activities into practice. The agency will work with the Philippine government to aid the country in reaching its TB objectives as set forth in the Philippines Development Plan for 2011-2016, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.

"The United States will continue to work with our partners to fight this deadly disease," Steele said, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "We are partnering with the National TB Control Program and the Department of Health in strengthening the public and private sectors' capacities to implement (directly observed treatment, short-course), the internationally recommended strategy for TB control."

Approximately 390,000 Filipinos contract TB annually, causing the deaths of 75 people a day. Most TB deaths occur in developing countries as the disease is closely linked with poor nutrition and substandard housing.

At least 22 countries carry 80 percent of the world's TB burden, four of which are located in the Western Pacific region - Vietnam, China, Cambodia and the Philippines.