Provincial Government of Bulacan

Bulacan healthcare providers assess the effectiveness of DAT for TB

DIGITAL ADHERENCE TECHNOLOGIES FOR TB. With the technical assistance of the KNCV ASCENT project, nearly 80 patients, TB nurses, program managers and other partners assess the effectivity of digital adherence technologies (DATs) during the virtual training on Digital Adherence Technologies for Tuberculosis held online recently wherein 32 rural health units and hospitals in Bulacan (16) and Pampanga (16) are already implementing the medication sleeve (left) and the smart pill box (right) to support patients’ adherence to treatment and ensure positive treatment outcomes.

CITY OF MALOLOS- The Adherence Support Coalition to End TB (ASCENT) project convened Bulacan healthcare providers along with other key TB players at the local, regional, and central National Tuberculosis Control Program (NTP) levels to assess how well digital adherence technologies (DATs) respond to patients and providers need via online recently.

ASCENT, a project implemented by KNCV in partnership with the Department of Health and the local governments of Bulacan and Pampanga, is supporting the use of (i) medication sleeve also called 99DOTS, (ii) smart pill box or evriMED device, and (iii) video-observed treatment also identified as sureAdhere in 46 rural health units and hospitals in both provinces.

According to Mona Lisa Morales, ASCENT Regional Technical Officer, drawing on their four-month DAT run-in implementation experience, nearly 80 attendees revisited the three DATs’ basic features, recommended steps to bolster their individual effectiveness, examined the support messages that go with each DAT, the differentiated care pathway, and the adherence platform/Everwell Hub’s features.

“In general, the participants found the DATs’ features acceptable and provided valuable recommendations to enhance it. These will be shared with KNCV in the Netherlands and further discussed with the partners in the project implementation review in May 2021,” Morales said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Daniel R. Fernando said that while the vaccination against COVID-19 for the first batch of health workers and frontliners in Bulacan is ongoing, the threat of TB should not be ignored.

“Tuberculosis is a major public health problem in the country not only in Bulacan, kaya laging buo ang suporta natin sa mga programa para hindi na ito makahawa at maging sanhi ng kamatayan ng ating mga kababayan, kasi naiiwasan at nagagamot naman ang TB, ‘wag lang tayong matakot kumonsulta sa duktor,” Fernando said.

Moreover, as per the World Health Organization, about 1 million Filipinos have active TB disease and even though this is the third highest prevalence rate in the world after South Africa and Lesotho and is a highly curable disease, it is the number one killer among all infectious diseases. Every day more than 70 people lose their lives to TB in the country needlessly while many of these patients develop drug resistant tuberculosis, which are more expensive and difficult to treat.

The ASCENT Philippines project is part of a five-country initiative (that includes Ethiopia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Ukraine) designed to build a scalable, affordable, evidence-based, and DAT-informed patient-centered treatment support package for TB. ###