By Philippine News Agency
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — The Department of Health (DOH) Mimaropa (Region 4-B) will step up efforts to arrest the rising cases of tuberculosis (TB) in this city and the province, said OIC Regional Director Mario Baquilod on Thursday.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), he said their priority health concerns in the city and province is about the reported increase in the number of Palaweños afflicted with the infectious disease.
“TB is one of our priorities until the fourth quarter of this year because there were reports of cases being higher here,” Baquilod said.
He said what needs to be strengthened in Palawan is the TB control program activating communities and patient groups promptly to access quality services, collaboration with other government agencies to reduce out-of-pocket expenses and expansion of social protection programs, harmonization of local and national efforts to mobilize adequate and competent human resources, and enforce standards on TB care and prevention and use of quality products among others.
“Despite significant progress, TB continues to be the top infectious killer that has to be controlled. Here in Puerto Princesa and your province, it is one of the health priorities that we will work on in the following days,” he said.
Assistant City Health Officer Dr. Dean Palanca of the city government said that five years ago, Puerto Princesa had around 200 cases of TB that rose to 400 to 700 last year.
“This year, 400 new cases have been added. Old cases were almost 700… the cases are increasing. If I am not mistaken, every year the new cases reach almost 700,” Palanca said.
He said they will coordinate with non-government organizations that have activities with indigent residents and encounters those afflicted with tuberculosis.
He said they can be encouraged to help by referring medical mission patients who will be detected with the infectious disease.
“We will ask them to immediately refer to us residents who will be detected with TB so that intervention can be immediately managed since medication is long, sometimes up to two years of continuous medication,” he said.
Palanca added that the number of TB drug-resistant patients is also increasing in Puerto Princesa.
“The number of drug-resistant TB patients is rising, which is alarming. Our second line is no longer working on them and medication is long, like two years,” he stated, adding TB usually affects the indigenous peoples and detainees in penal facilities because their holding cells are cramped.