DOH pitches use of digital platforms to end tuberculosis

THE Department of Health (DOH) called on government and private stakeholders to use digital platforms in ending tuberculosis (TB) amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. “Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest healthcare challenge of a generation. The radical containment measures and the widespread lockdown have markedly disrupted and affected how healthcare services, including TB programs and services, are delivered. As we may all know, TB is also an infectious respiratory disease that causes death to 27,000 Filipinos every year, needlessly. It is therefore imperative to identify and implement innovative approaches to be able to find missing cases and eventually end the disease, during and beyond this crisis,” DOH regional director Cesar Cassion said during the business-not-as-usual webinar which the agency organized in partnership with TB Platforms Project of the United States Agency for International Development. “We now live in the digital age. One out of four Filipinos are now smartphone owners. Three out of four Filipinos who own smartphones, use them as their main access point to the internet. Filipino users spend an average of 174 minutes each day online - nearly three hours - through their smartphones. These point to the growing influence that mobile technology and online connectivity have over Filipinos’ lives. Indeed, digital technology has permeated every aspect of our lives, from the way we work, communicate and relate with families and friends,” he added. Cassion said that based on an article he read, nearly 70 percent of internet users look up health information online. However, only one in five people have an app downloaded on their smartphones to track their health and health apps comprised only 2.8 percent of the total app downloads. “These pieces of evidence, among many others, point us to the disconnect between personal digital technology and healthcare. The use of digital technology for personal purposes is common and widespread, yet the healthcare industry has yet to catch up,” he stressed. Cassion challenged attendees to use digital technologies as advantage so that we can find and treat the missing cases of TB, and finally put an end to the disease that has plagued the country for countless years. “It is my hope that the essence of that we all treat TB as a serious business, even during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that we adopt new or modified approaches to address it for benefit the health of the Filipino population, especially of our TB clients, who we love and serve,” he ended. (PIA-Central Luzon)


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