March 3, 2024

The Department of Health said although the number of tuberculosis (TB) cases reported in the country in the first three months of 2020 has drastically gone down, this is not good news.
The National Tuberculosis Control Program (NTP) of the DOH recorded 88,662 new and relapse TB cases from January to March this year, declining steeply by almost 20 percent between February (30,728) and March (24,782).
“We see this as a direct effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on critical disease prevention and control programs like TB. The quarantine has extremely affected and limited the health seeking behaviors of fellow Filipinos,” said Sec. Francisco T. Duque III.
However, Duque said unlike other health programs, having fewer cases is not an indicator of success for the TB program.
“Our goal for our TB program is to find and treat as many TB cases as possible. Only by finding and treating these cases can we limit its spread and achieve our dream of a TB-free Philippines.”
In recent years, the DOH has boosted its active case finding initiatives, organizing community outreach activities, and setting up local TB task forces for community surveillance.
From 2017 to 2019, the DOH reached, on the average, 93 percent of its annual target of notified cases. But the Covid-19 quarantine has restricted such interventions to find, test, treat, and prevent TB cases in hospitals, health facilities, and communities.
On March 16, the DOH-NTP issued Department Memorandum 2020-0128 entitled “Ensuring Continuous TB Services during Community Quarantine” to guide and ensure safety of both the facility staff and patients, who are at high risk of infection. – DOH release