By Anupama Tantri and Anna Johnston
In late August, the Philippines Department of Health held their Second National NTD Stakeholders Forum, an impressive demonstration of commitment from all levels of the government and partners from across multiple sectors to come together to end NTDs.
Throughout the forum, participants discussed the importance of advocacy in helping the country and region achieve control and elimination goals. Their commitment was made clear by developing and signing a “Wall of Commitment,” which represents their partnership for an NTD-free Philippines. This wall will serve as a signal and reminder of the country’s commitment to end the six most prominent NTDs in the Philippines by the 2018 deadline.
The national government worked alongside local political representation including Governors and other Local Chief Executives – to showcase support for this commitment to eliminate the burden of NTDs. The local political leaders are central to the success of NTD control and elimination efforts and have a key role to play in promoting public-private partnerships, building consensus among stakeholders, and supporting community awareness and mass-media at a provincial level.
The Journal of Tropical Medicine reports that 28 out of 81 provinces are endemic for Schistosomiasis resulting in 12 million people being exposed to the disease.
While the Philippines has among the highest burden of NTDs around the world, significant progress is being made to address this burden. The government is focused on scaling up mass drug administration, training on vector management, integrated programs that include safe water and sanitation practices, and monitoring systems.
The event was a collaborative effort by the Philippines Department of Health, United States Agency for International Development and FHI360, an international non-governmental organization.