April 21, 2024

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by a bacteria that commonly affects the lungs, but which can also affect the different parts of the body. It is a fatal disease that affects over a million Filipinos to date.

Health professionals have been emphasizing that though fatal, TB can be treated. However, many TB patients do not get completely cured of the disease because they do not complete the treatment, which is the reason why the Department of Health-Cordillera stresses on the importance of having complete treatment.

Joycelyn Rillorta, nurse V at the DOH-Cordillera Disease Prevention and Control Cluster, explained some patients get afflicted with drug-susceptible TB, which is treated up to six months using first line drugs, while there are those who “graduated” to having drug-resistant TB, which involves six to 18 months treatment depending on severity using second line drugs.

Drug-resistant TB is acquired if the patient does not complete treatment for drug-susceptible TB.

“A TB patient must take their medicines religiously, para hindi siya babagsak sa pagiging drug-resistant. Most TB patients who are still undergoing treatment but felt better already think they are already cured, but they need to understand that they should finish the treatment for them to be completely cured. Dapat tapusin ang schedule ng pag-inom ng gamot. If not, you will become drug resistant,” Malicdan said during the regular DOH-Cordillera media briefing on March 6.

TB treatment is being offered for free and may be availed from public health centers and hospitals as well as partner private health institutions.

The Cordillera currently has a total of 4,768 drug susceptible TB and 59 drug resistant TB, based on the DOH 2023 data.

TB is detected by appearance of symptoms, through X-ray, and phlegm examination. Symptoms include coughing, unexplained fever, excessive perspiration at night, and sudden loss of weight.

Catching the disease may be prevented by covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, observing proper personal hygiene, avoiding smoking; and getting screened, tested, and treated.

Malicdan said screening and testing is also important to detect the disease early and prevent TB from getting severe that will lead to complications.

As part of efforts to bring TB and other health services closer and more accessible to the community and as part of the World TB Day 2024 commemoration, Malicdan said there is an ongoing TB caravan which started last March 1 until March 27 for the different provinces of the Cordillera, where X-ray services may be availed of free of charge.

Individuals screened during the caravan who will turn out positive of the disease will be referred to their respective rural health units for treatment.

Among the activities are the TB caravans from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 12 in La Trinidad, Benguet gymnasium and at City Camp barangay hall on March 13, also from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A mobile TB clinic, which was donated by the Philippine Business for Social Progress and is capable of doing X-rays using artificial intelligence where results are known immediately and referred right after for treatment, will also make the rounds in the entire region soon to reach out the population for TB screening and refer them for treatment when necessary. – Hanna C. Lacsamana