Remarks by Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II, Opening Ceremony of the Seventh Conference of the Union Asia Pacific Region

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

[As Prepared]

[Greetings]

I am honored to be in the presence of health champions from around the Asia Pacific Region who have been working hard to find, treat and eliminate tuberculosis, or TB.

I am honored, as the Mission Director for the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, in the Philippines to represent the U.S. government at this Seventh Conference of the Union Asia Pacific Region. This event is an important platform for TB experts from around the region to share the latest medical advances to accelerate results in TB prevention, care and treatment.

Your participation in this four-day conference is important as we exchange our collective knowledge, experiences and innovations that will help identify actions that impact TB approaches in the region, as well as globally.

TB continues to kill two to three Filipinos every hour; during the time that we will be here this afternoon, TB will have killed 12 people. Furthermore, the financial costs of the disease are staggering, not just for TB patients and their families, but for the economic development of this country.

Eradicating TB is a top priority for the U.S. government. Around the world, USAID supports country-led efforts to develop, finance, and implement national and sub-national TB programs. We also strongly encourage partnerships with the private sector to achieve greater scale, sustainability and effectiveness of our development work.

We also know that TB is a disease that knows no borders, which is why regional information-sharing is strategic to combat this regional issue.

Over the past 10 years, the U.S. government has provided over 80 million dollars of financial and technical assistance to support the Philippine government to eradicate TB by 2035 — a testament to the American people’s support for the Philippines and the region as a friend, partner and ally. And throughout the Asia Pacific Region, since 2017, the U.S. government has invested about 150 million dollars to end TB in the region.

Since 2006, the number of TB patients diagnosed and reported nearly doubled, showing remarkable improvement in the Philippines’ ability to find people infected with TB so that they can receive life-saving treatment. Through our partnership, the Philippines is also one of the few countries in the world that has introduced new, shortened anti-TB medicines and regimens. In the past five years, I am proud to say that our partnership with the DOH has successfully treated one million Filipinos with TB.

Despite these achievements, we still have an enormous responsibility ahead of us. The Philippines has one of the highest burdens of TB in the world. One in 20 new cases of multidrug-resistant TB are in the Philippines.

We join Secretary Duques’s call for a ‘business-not-usual’ approach to eliminating TB in the Philippines. We strongly support the Philippine government’s actions to elevate TB as one of your highest national priorities by dedicating more human and financial resources to this effort. In order to attain the health and economic development goals for the country, we simply cannot afford to remain at our current pace.

To reach the Philippine Department of Health’s target of detecting, treating and curing 2.5 million TB patients by 2022, one resource that is critical is an adequate supply of anti-TB drugs and diagnostic tests. That’s why we are so glad that the Department of Health will be working with partners to ensure an adequate supply of life-saving commodities.

The U.S. government will continue to partner with the Department of Health to scale up high-impact approaches and introduce promising interventions to prevent, detect and cure TB. Together, we can achieve a healthier and more prosperous future for the Philippines.

I am confident – with the amazing expertise in the room – this conference will help us all effectively collaborate in eliminating TB in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

Maraming salamat po!

Issuing Country 

Last updated: September 10, 2019

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