ZAMBOANGA CITY, Aug. 6 (PIA) – The Department of Health (DOH)-9 together with its lead partners from the government and private sectors began the observance of Lung Month this August 1 with the theme, “ Tuldukan ang TB. Ikalat ang Tamang Impormasyon, Hindi ang Diskriminasyon.”
DOH 9 Chief Medical Technologist Mr. Joselito Cua said the month-long activity would focus on the most common lung ailment in the country, tuberculosis (TB).
“Seventy five Filipinos are dying of TB every day. Philippines ranks number 9 in TB burden, and TB is the number 6 leading causes of morbidity and mortality in our country,” Mr. Cua said in a forum sponsored by the Philippine Information Agency.
In its quest to control TB, Cua said the DOH is improving its facilities, and strategy on TB control through the participation of all stakeholders.
“We have our National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) to address TB. What’s good about our program is that it is now integrated in the health structure of the community. Every health center is now Direct Observed Treatment Strategy (DOTS) center capable of managing TB patients, from identification, diagnosis, and treatment until they are cured,” Cua explained.
Zamboanga City Health Office Medical Officer IV Dr. Dulce Amor Dagalea said “TB is still one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the past years, 6th on 2010 and 7th in 2011. However, it has improved much in 2012.”
CHO report showed that in 2012, TB was ranked 14th among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Zamboanga City.
Dagalea further said that, “For every 1,000 population in Zamboanga City, at least two are at risk of TB, and one dies of it.”
She also stressed that TB can be acquired through droplets of infected persons. It can also infect an unborn child if a mother is infected with TB. However, it does not guarantee that a child will automatically be infected unless the TB bacteria of the mother go through the blood streams.
Ms. Miriam Kanti, a clinical instructor of one of the local schools here and representing Zamboanga City Council Against TB (ZAMCAT), enjoined media partners to help them by disseminating proper information to the public.
“Our main problem why there are still patients who do not want to undergo treatment is because of the stigma against them. Let’s have a uniform message that TB is curable. It can be cured and it is for free,” Kanti clarified.
She also said that Zamboanga City’s multi-ethnicity also plays a part in the spread of TB.
“We have our different beliefs. We have our own myths about TB. But to put it simply, if we have cough for about a week or two, it’s not normal anymore. We have to undergo test. Again, it’s for free,” she pointed out.
Dagalea also debunked the myth that smoking can cause TB. However, it makes a person more vulnerable to the disease.
“Smoking does not cause TB. But it weakens our immune system, especially our lungs and that makes a person more susceptible to TB,” Dagalea said.
As to other support for patients, Philhealth is giving P4,000.00 per patient who are admitted in all Philhealth accredited institutions.
“Our participation comes in with the accreditation of facilities. We give patients admitted to accredited institutions patients who are confined with the facility,” Mr. Ronald Jabay, Public Relations Officer III of Philhealth-9 said.
Mr. Jabay added that the support is a not a one-time support for patients. However, Philhealth discourages relapse or incomplete treatment.
“We will still be giving financial support to the patient if the disease recurs, except if it’s due to discontinuance of medication by the patient,” he said.
TB case detection and cure rate is high in Zamboanga City, Dagalea said.
“For case detection rate, in 2010 we have 93%, 101% in 2011, and for 2012 100%. For the cure rate, for 2010 we have 92% and for 2011 we have 90% complete treatment rate. We are still to compute for 2012,” she explained.