Araneta City: a TB-Free Workplace
Araneta City has put the health of its communities in the frontline of priorities, in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal #3 on ensuring healthy lives and the promotion of the well-being for all at all ages. More particularly, the UN SDG 3.3 target is to end the epidemics of AIDS, TB, malaria and other communicable diseases by 2030.
According to World Health Organization, about 1 million Filipinos have active TB disease. This is the third highest prevalence rate in the world. It is a highly-curable disease. Yet, it is the number one killer among all infectious diseases. Every day, more than 70 people lose their lives to TB in the Philippines needlessly, or 3 Filipinos die every hour. Ending TB requires concerted action by all sectors and all care providers. Everyone has a role to play in ending TB – individuals, communities, businesses, governments and societies.
The TB-Free Araneta City Campaign is part of the bigger program of United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s TB Platforms for Sustainable Detection, Care and Treatment project, implemented by the University Research Co. Philippines (URC), in support of the Department of Health (DOH)’s National Tuberculosis Program.
J. Amado Araneta Foundation, together with its partners, Gerry Roxas Foundation, the subcontractor of URC Philippines to provide support for USAID’s TB Platforms, and Barangay. Socorro of Quezon City, started TB-Free Araneta City as an awareness-raising campaign. It became a bigger conscious advocacy with the intention of seeking to promote participation of communities, families and workplaces to detect, treat and prevent the disease. The three messages trumpeted were:
1. Know that TB is air-borne
2. A loved-one may already have TB and not know it; and
3. Be encouraged to get a loved one checked up.
It embarked on a three-pronged approach of working with its people, its partners and its communities to combat TB. Phase 1 entails starting within the Organization. The People approach required all regular and agency employees of ACI and the other Araneta Group affiliates to be screened for TB. Overall, there were free screenings that benefited a total of nearly 3,000 employees. The TB orientations on addressing the stigma and profiling of patients aided in achieving the goal for the year.
For the TB cases, the Company Clinic referred the patients to Barangay. Socorro Health Center for free medication and monitoring. Employees and personnel with confirmed TB cases were also assisted in getting 2-week sickness leave with pay from SSS for the initial treatment, aside from the patient briefing and constant monitoring. Back-to-work clearances were issued after ensuring that the patient seeks treatment. To date, 80% of the TB cases are cleared and are now reporting to work.
Roberto and Ricky, TB-positive employees, after having been screened twice, were referred to Barangay Socorro Health Center for treatment. With the able assistance of ACI’s HR Department and the Clinic, they availed of the SSS sickness benefit for them to be compensated for their 2-week absence. This critical period is when the patient’s immunity is compromised because the body is still adjusting to the medication. Every Monday for 6 months, they went to the Barangay Health Center for the medicines and for monitoring purposes. Now, they are TB-free.
The second phase involves the partners. Free x-ray screenings were scheduled for the lessees to benefit from it. For anchor stores and major chains, certificates are requested, signifying that all employees have been screened for the year and that they are TB-free. After 4 months of phase 2 implementation, compliance is at 16%.
The third phase touches on the communities in Araneta City. This involve the shoppers, commuters and the general public who come to Araneta City. Massive campaigns have been started in 2019 for awareness drives. “TB can be cured. It is preventable. When you experience the symptoms, see a doctor.” These are the messages JAAF and Araneta City have been trumpeting on social media, in large format screens around the City, via physical and digital assets. The messages were sent consistently.
Barangay Socorro in Quezon City is a TB success story. Their 2019 accomplishment for finding TB cases was at a high rate, when in fact they had barely a year to work on it. Forty three percent of this came from the TB-Free Araneta City campaign, contributing to the Barangay’s 70% yield for the year. The partnership is making headway for Barangay Socorro’s finding and treating TB cases. TB Free Araneta City has become a trigger for people to be more conscious of their health and its effects to the community one moves in. When before, TB equals stigma; through education, the consciousness has been changed.
There were policy-making changes also effected for TB-Free Araneta City. Institutionalizing it by way of adding clauses in the subcontractors’ agreements, signifying that their employees are screened every year for TB, is a major step for the Program.
The Organization remains steadfast in its commitment for a TB-free workplace, fully achieving it by 2022.
“What Araneta City is doing is nothing new. How can we not end TB when screening, medication and patient care are available for us Filipinos? We just connected the dots, bridged the gaps, through the help of our partners, and made it accessible to our people, our partners and our community. We hope through this clear model, others in the private sector will soon follow suit.” Diane Romero, the J. Amado Araneta Foundation Executive Director further elaborated. Through public-private cooperation, fruitful things happen.
The success of TB-Free Araneta City is largely due to Mrs. Judy Roxas, J. Amado Araneta Foundation President, championing the Project. Strong management support, through the Araneta Group’s Chairman, Mr. Jorge L. Araneta, was another key to the successful project implementation. Araneta City is truly one in advocating for the adoption of good health behaviors to prevent the spread of TB in the workplace.