February 2022 – In recognition of the increasing burden that tuberculosis continues to put on our younger population across the country, Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. (J&J Philippines) and the Philippine Tuberculosis Society, Inc. (PTSI) are rolling out their joint priority project in 2022, a campaign to find the “missing millions” affected by tuberculosis (TB) among the country’s youth and help them improve their lung health with the right treatment.

President of PTSI, Dr. Camilo Roa, Jr. 

Recent data shows that millions of young Filipinos are living with active tuberculosis and have not sought help (the “missing millions”). Across the ASEAN region, the country has the highest TB incidence rate, and this disease, while preventable, is still one of the nation’s leading causes of death and morbidity among its youth. 

“One of the leading factors of TB’s prevalence among Filipino youth is their poor health-seeking behavior,” said the head of Medical Affairs of J&J Philippines, Dr. Erwin Benedicto. “The younger population aren’t as alarmed about this disease compared to others, which is why they aren’t actively aware of what to look out for in order to prevent or seek treatment for it.”

J&J Philippines and PTSI’s joint initiative, dubbed “Youth Community Case Finding,” will engage young Filipinos, 15 to 24 years old, in the country’s highest-risk communities for TB and build advocates for TB awareness among them. 

Dr. Erwin Benedicto

“We are one with Johnson & Johnson and the DOH National TB Program in launching this aggressive effort to find the ‘missing youth population with TB’, and encourage them to get tested and seek treatment,” said the president of PTSI, Dr. Camilo Roa, Jr. 

A central initiative of the J&J Philippines and PTSI “Youth Community Case Finding” are local activations in Negros Oriental and Roxas in the Visayas carried out in coordination with their respective local governments and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). On-ground activities include information dissemination and health awareness on TB, including its signs and symptoms; an awareness drive in barangays carried out in partnership with the local SKs to engage the youth and help them improve their health-seeking behavior; contact-tracing, consultation, and screening of presumptive TB patients; and capacity building and training of barangay health workers on TB.

“By increasing our efforts to reach out to possible TB patients, we hope to finally bring to light the real picture of the TB situation here in the Philippines—and get them the help that they need,” ended Dr. Erwin Benedicto.

Liked this post? Follow SwirlingOverCoffee on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.