I never thought that being sick with tuberculosis (TB) for a decade would lead me to this purpose: being an advocate to fight and eliminate this disease - not just in my country, the Philippines, but all over the world.
I was recently invited by RESULTS Japan to represent TB patients' perspectives in the call for continuous funding from the Japanese government to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund). The advocacy activities, led by Results Japan, were in support to the Global Fund Fourth Replenishment which aims to secure financing for the years 2014-2016.
Together with the representatives from Results Japan, Friends of the Global Fund Japan (FGFJ), The Research Institute (RIT)/Japan Anti-tuberculosis Association (JATA), African Japan Forum (AJF), Stop TB Partnership Japan, and the Global Fund Head of Strategy, Investment and Impact Division Dr. Osamu Kunii, the team met with Director General of the Budget Bureau Shunsuke Kagawa, member of the House of Representatives Okonogi Hachiro, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in October to advocate for the Japanese government to commit 120 billion yen (USD 1.2 billion) in total for the next three years.
I shared my personal battle against TB at the concluding symposium for NGO members and citizens. I wasn’t able to finish the afternoon panel discussion before heading to Narita Airport, so I left this message to the citizens of Japan:
I would like to say thank you to the government of Japan for supporting the Global Fund. Personally, I was one of the beneficiaries of the Global Fund and my country has been receiving Global Fund grants since 2003 up to present. We have made a tremendous impact in fighting tuberculosis, but the journey in fighting and finally eliminating the disease is still long. I hope that Japan will continue to invest in Global Fund projects to help third world countries like the Philippines which do not have enough resources to fund the treatment of drug-resistant TB.This is not just a responsibility of countries affected by the disease. This is everyone's responsibility. Thank you.
It has been a humbling experience for me to be invited by international organizations to address the need for continuous funding and investment in fighting tuberculosis through better treatment options and rapid and accurate diagnostic tools: from participating last March in a World TB Day celebration in Washington DC, to helping represent the patients' perspective in the World Health Organization's guideline development group meeting last May, and the recent advocacy work in Japan.
Over the past decades TB has evolved; and with the rising incidence of drug-resistant TB globally, it has become a worldwide concern that should be given priority.
We will learn how much governments will invest in the next three years of Global Fund projects soon: the Global Fund Fourth Replenishment is closing with a pledging meeting in Washington, DC, on December 2 and 3.