Mistreatment fuels rise of TB cases

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MISTREATMENT is one of the reasons why the prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) remains high, according to Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd.

Guingona, in an interview after the Senate health and demography committee hearing on tuberculosis, on Wednesday said cases of tuberculosis in the Philippines continue to increase because of incorrect or incomplete treatment of the disease.

But the worst part is that the continuous wrong treatment of the disease is also giving rise to the multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis, which is different from the common TB.

The Department of Health (DOH) told senators that the rise of MDR-TB cases is taking a toll on the government’s health services budget because treatment for each patient costs P250,000.


Based on the data of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2011, there are about 260,000 cases of TB in the country and 28,000 die in a year.

TB prevalence is high among the elderly, urban poor, smokers and those with compromised immune systems such as people with HIV, malnutrition and diabetes.

Guingona said even if the number of TB cases has declined, the Philippines ranked second in Asia when it comes to prevalence.

DOH Undersecretary Pauline Obial, said 10 percent of TB patients are children.

“Before, we did not provide the drugs because children do not actually transmit the disease but what happens is that when they grow up, they become active cases and therefore can transmit the disease,” Obial explained.

To address the problem of TB mistreatment, Guingona said the Senate health committee is set to pass a measure that seeks to establish a Comprehensive Tuberculosis Elimination Plan Act.

Senate Bill 2653 seeks to strengthen the Regional Centers of Health Development to provide health services to eliminate TB such as free laboratory services; reliable supply of drugs to patients for free, sufficient supply of medicines for communities; and proper monitoring of TB cases.

The bill also proposes to regulate the sale and use of TB drugs.

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