DOH underscores ‘missing’ TB cases

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
DOH underscores �missing� TB cases
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the country is committed to “find and treat” some 2.5 million TB cases by 2022 to decrease the incidence of this lung disease by 23 percent.
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — As the country observes World Tuberculosis Day today, the Department of Health (DOH) underscored the need for all TB cases to be diagnosed and treated properly.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the country is committed to “find and treat” some 2.5 million TB cases by 2022 to decrease the incidence of this lung disease by 23 percent.

Based on the 2017-2022 Philippine Strategic TB Elimination Plan Phase 1, the impact targets against TB for 2022 also include the reduction of the number of TB deaths by half from 22,000 to 11,000; reduction to zero in the number of TB-affected households that experience catastrophic costs due to TB and at least 90 percent patient satisfaction with TB services.

Data showed that by the end of 2018, more than 30,000 TB cases were reported by private physicians.

Duque said the country is committed to create the high-level National Coordination Committee to address the social determinants of TB. 

He said it is important to address the needs of the TB patients beyond health.

“The time to act is now. Managing the TB burden toward eliminating it is our call to action to our stakeholders and partners. We need to Find, Treat and Prevent TB. Let us end TB now!” Duque said.

In September last year, DOH Undersecretary Mario Villaverde reported that the Philippines was leading nine other ASEAN member-countries when it comes to TB, but only because the country was among the first to use a state-of-the art diagnostic technology for the disease.

Villaverde said this was because the Philippines was one of the first nations that uses a modern testing machine called GeneXpert, which works by simplifying the testing protocol for TB.  

The technology detects the DNA in TB bacteria using sputum specimen in less than two hours.

On the other hand, the old methods required TB patients undergo sputum collection and culture, skin test and chest X-ray.

Villaverde said in two to three years, when more countries start using GeneXpert methods, the ranking is expected to change. 

“Probably, the cases we used to miss in the old technology, we are seeing them now,” Villaverde said.

Tobacco taxes for TB treatment

Health advocates have pushed anew for higher tobacco taxes to help strengthen the fight against TB.

Maricar Limpin, convenor of the Action on Smoking and Health Philippines, said the government would need huge resources for the diagnosis and treatment of TB if the country is serious in its commitment to help end the global TB epidemic by 2030. 

Limpin said increasing the taxes on tobacco products could be a good source of funding, aside from helping save Filipinos from tobacco-related illnesses.

“Significantly raising the tax on cigarettes is akin to a health promotion measure that will prevent Filipinos from further risk to TB development as well as aid in preventing increased risk to treatment failure and development of resistance to TB drugs,” Limpin said.

She said the tax increase would generate funds to augment the budget of the DOH and support efforts to provide potentially better outcome in the country’s initiatives to end TB.

“For many years now, TB continues to be one of the top 10 leading causes of mortality in the country, and studies show that smoking greatly increases the risk of contracting the disease,” she said.

The group wants the tax on cigarettes to be increase by at least P60 per pack to discourage vulnerable sectors such as the young and the poor from smoking, and prevent more Filipinos at risk from developing TB.

“In effect, we can kill the epidemic at its source, Limpin said.”

vuukle comment



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with