PH breaks world record for largest human lung formation on World TB Day

Press Release

Over 5,500 enthusiastic participants worked in unison to break India’s world record for the largest human lung formation in history during the recent celebration of World TB Day 2024 at the Quirino Grandstand. The feat was achieved through community solidarity, commitment, and dedication, as everyone with one accord stated: “Tuloy ang bayanihan, TB ay tuldukan! Para Healthy Lungs, Pa-check ka Lungs!”

The event was celebrated by the Department of Health (DOH) in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Family Health International 360, the World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines, the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Stop TB Partnerships, and other partners.

The aim of the celebration was to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social, and economic consequences of tuberculosis (TB) and ignite the flame of solidarity among partners and participants, emphasizing the collaborative effort required to combat TB. Joegene Mangilaya, a participant who survived multidrug-resistant TB (MDRTB), declared, “As a survivor, it’s time for us to speak and to support… I am an advocate for TB survivors in the Philippines and I’ve now gone from surviving to striving.”

The city government of Manila (where the event was held) expressed their solidarity in combating TB, a global health challenge affecting millions. Together with other partners, representatives pledged to help increase awareness, advocate for better healthcare access, and support research for improved treatment and prevention methods.

DOH Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said in his speech, “Nakita niyo hindi madali mag-attempt ng world record. Napaka-strikto ng rules at hindi natin ito magagawa kung hindi tayo magtutulong-tulong at magbayanihan. Ganun din sana ang mangyari para matuldukan natin ang TB.” He added, “Ang TB ay isang sakit na matagal nang nandirito sa ating bayan at kaya naman gamutin sa proseso ng pag-test ng x-ray, ng molecular test at mga gamot. Available po ‘yan at binibili ng Department of Health at ng Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas. Isa ito sa mga inutos ng ating presidente na ayusin natin: ang problema ng TB sa Pilipinas.”

World TB Day, observed on March 24, serves as an opportunity to mobilize efforts from different sectors in addressing the disease and supporting TB survivors as well as at-risk populations. With the running theme of “Urgent, Collective Action to Save Lives,” this year’s event in Manila also carried the reminder “Ituloy ang Bayanihan! TB ay Tuldukan!” to build on the milestones gained post-Covid-19 pandemic.

“For the past two weeks, people from almost 100 countries were here in Manila engaged by Stop TB Partnership to show the great work done by the world, people in the Department of Health, PhilCAT, and all the TB-related organizations here,” shared Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership. 

She added, “I want to thank everyone that came at 4 a.m. today and stayed here with us. You did it for the country. You did it for your people. You did it for the people with TB to show that TB exists and TB kills people, but there is no shame, no stigma in having TB. From the Stop TB Partnership in Geneva, thank you.”

The human lung formation was made up of 5,596 people in total. This surpassed the previous 2017 record of 5,003 people in India. The activity served as a powerful visual representation of the importance of lung health and the urgent need to eradicate TB not just in the Philippines, but in the world. 

USAID Office of Health Director Andrea Halverson said, “Thank you for being a part of history today. USAID is proud to stand together with you, with our friends in the Department of Health, with our partners, friends, and allies on stage with us today to say together, yes, we can end TB! Tuloy ang bayanihan, TB ay tuldukan!

Representatives from various groups were in attendance to show support for the campaign. These included: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Fund Portfolio Manager Mark Saalfeld; FHI360 Chief of Party Dr. Soliman Guirgis; Metro Manila Center for Health Development Regional Director Dr. Rio Magpantay; Manila City Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan; WHO Representatives Dr. Rui De Jesus and Dr. Graham Perry Harrison; Stop TB Partnership Executive Director Dr. Lucica Ditiu; PhilCAT Chair, Dr. Janice Caoili; Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) Executive Director Elvin Uy; USAID Office for Health Director Andrea Halverson; DOH Secretary Teodoro Herbosa; and DILG Assistant Secretary for International Relations Lilian De Leon.

The spirit of solidarity demonstrated at this year’s national celebration of World TB Day serves to inspire communities not just in the Philippines but worldwide to unite in the fight against TB to ensure a healthier, TB-free future for all.