63 Pinoys die of tuberculosis daily

By Mayen Jaymalin, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 15 2014 08:47 AM | Updated as of Mar 17 2014 09:38 PM

MANILA - Sixty-three Filipinos die every day due to tuberculosis (TB) despite the government’s massive campaign against the spread of the deadly infection, the Department of Health (DOH) bared yesterday.

Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said TB prevalence in the country has declined in the last 21 years, but many TB patients nationwide die daily due to failure to seek medical treatment.

He said the latest DOH data showed that 712 Filipinos get afflicted with TB every day, but only 632 seek treatment.

“Of those who were able to seek medical treatment, only 577 are able to complete the six-month medication. For this reason, 63 Filipinos still die daily due to TB,” Tayag explained.

This, despite the DOH spending P1,000 per month for free medicines given to every TB patient who avail of the government’s Directly Observed Therapy-Short Course (DOTS) strategy.

Tayag urged TB patients to immediately seek medical treatment to prevent the infection from spreading.

He also noted that the cost of medication would be much cheaper compared to the treatment of those suffering from multi-drug resistant TB.

TB is an infectious bacterial disease that commonly affects the lungs. It is transmitted from person to person via droplets from the throat and lungs of people with the active respiratory disease.

The infection often causes no symptoms, but there are TB patients who suffer from coughing (sometimes with sputum or blood), chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.

Most people with TB are cured by strictly following a six-month drug regimen with support and supervision. However, inappropriate or incorrect use of antimicrobial drugs, or use of ineffective formulations of drugs, can cause drug resistance.

Tayag said treatment of a multi-drug resistant TB costs the DOH P300,000 a month for each patient. The DOH has recorded and provided medical treatment to 7,800 patients with multi-drug resistant TB.

He said many Filipinos are unable to get medical treatment because they are unaware that they are afflicted with the disease, while there are also many who refuse to seek medical help due to stigma associated with TB.

“Stigma because of TB still exists because we have yet to address the myths about the disease. There are people who are unaware that TB can be easily treated,” Tayag noted.