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Bulacan and Pampanga provinces to test the use of digital adherence technologies

Randomization events were held in the Bulacan and Pampanga provinces in the Philippines to identify the 32 health facilities which will use digital adherence technologies as part of the ASCENT project. Besides this intervention group, a same number of facilities was selected that will apply the standard of care, forming the control group. The two groups will be assessed to determine if the use of digital adherence technologies (DATs) compared to the standard of care reduces the number of adult drug-sensitive patients with poor end-of-treatment outcomes compared with patients who were treated using only standard of care. Sub-studies will assess among patients and healthcare workers the acceptability and feasibility of using these DATs.

This makes the Philippines the first country to implement a randomization event and marks the start of on the ground implementation activities. Soon training for the health staff in the selected facilities will follow.

KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation is engaging the national TB control program and key stakeholders in five countries (Ethiopia, South Africa, Tanzania, Ukraine, and The Philippines) through the Unitaid-funded ASCENT project. By doing so we facilitate country adoption of DATs, generate critical evidence for optimal use and scale-up, create a global market and plan for implementing DATs, and engage key global and in-country stakeholders to prepare for scale-up of the DAT intervention.

“Never let this pandemic take our focus away from other health problems”

Governor Daniel Fernando (Bulacan), in his keynote speech, said that while the world has been fighting TB for more than a hundred years, the disease remains the leading infectious disease cause of mortality, more than COVID-19. And yet the TB program is the most underfunded. “I admit that as we divert finances for COVID, care for patients with TB is compromised. Since the national lockdown, there has been a 59% drop in daily GeneXpert testing and 23% reduction in new TB diagnosis. But we must remember to never let this pandemic take our focus away from other health problems,” Fernando said. The governor thanked KNCV and the ASCENT project for highlighting the role of governance in the fight against TB.

KNCV is implementing ASCENT together with The Aurum Institute, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and PATH.

Credit: RondaBalita, Emmanuel D. Balbin

Project staff of Adherence Support Coalition to End TB (ASCENT) as they explain the randomization of facilities (Photo courtesy of Provincial Government of Bulacan)
Province Bulacan in the Philippines first to adopt Digital Adherence Technology