A Sign of Hope, A Promise to the Future
Last 23rd of March, 2012 marked the annual celebration of World TB Day here in the Philippines, held this year at the New Bilibid Prisons Sunken Garden. The theme for this year’s celebration was: “No TB Today, Tomorrow, Ever”, with the focus on the program of Tuberculosis (TB) in prisons. The incidence of TB in prisons has gained importance; with 158 inmates having been diagnosed with Pulmonary Tuberculosis at the New Bilibid Prisons in the first quarter of this year alone.
The commemoration was well-attended by various organizations which included representatives from the WHO-Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO), the National Capital Region – Center for Health Development (NCR-CHD), and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). The program began with a parade of colors of the various Philippine Coalition Against Tuberculosis (PhilCAT) members and partners present. This year, the Tropical Disease Foundation, Inc. was represented by Rholine Gem Martin Veto, M.D. and Mhon Adrian Pereña.
Honorary speakers included Dr. Katsunori Osuga (WPRO), and Dr. Elizabeth Cadena, Past Chair of PhilCAT. Both messages highlighted the right of inmates to health services; particularly TB treatment as part of their rehabilitation process. Also, a testimony was given by Mr. Veno Esperas, an inmate who contracted TB while serving his sentence. All those present were inspired by the awareness shared by Mr. Esperas on the nature of his condition, its consequences to himself and his family, and his faith that his sentence would eventually end: that TB is a disease that can be overcome.
The highlight of the program was the keynote speech by DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo who shared his hopes that other health programs may garner the same amount of support and awareness that TB has garnered in recent years. Throughout the successful celebration were intermission numbers participated in by the BuCor Chorale and Dance Group, as well as members of the BJMP, who enlivened all those present. The event was a success, and hopefully, so would be its theme of “No TB Today, Tomorrow, Ever”.