DOH: 13,000 TB patients ‘missing’

By Minerva BC Newman

CEBU CITY – The Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas is calling friends and relatives of people with tuberculosis to urge the patients to submit themselves to free treatment in any of the public hospitals and health centers in the region.

Carlo Wyne Brillantes, regional DOH nurse and TB program focal person in-charge, said over 13,000 TB cases in the region have not registered for 2018.

“People who are affected with TB are embarrassed to seek medical help due to public discrimination and the stigma and certain “myths” of the disease that it is still incurable,” Brillantes said.

Based on the DOH 2016 survey that had 46,000 respondents, only 19 percent of those with TB cases went to health centers for medical consultation, 41 percent know they have TB and are self-medicating, and a good 40 percent did not do anything about their sickness, he said.

In Central Visayas alone, Brillantes estimated that from 12,000 to 13,000 of people with TB belong to the 40 percent who are not doing anything with their disease and this could cause more contagion within their households and in their communities.

In 2017, DOH registered 43,725 TB cases in Central Visayas under its Tuberculosis Control Program, and 92 percent of them have been cured.

The remaining eight percent were patients who did not follow strictly the medication process.

“For January to June 2018, we already have treated 10,850 TB cases in the region and we are strictly seeking those missing TB cases and monitoring those who are enrolled in the program,” he said.

Every year, TB patient detection in Central Visayas are increasing in trends but DOH’s TB Control Program helped tremendously, specifically the Interagency Regional Coordinating Committee (IRCC) and partnership with private health providers, hospitals and HMOs to ensure the heightened awareness on the prevention and cure of TB, Brillantes said.

The TB Control program provides free medicines to indigents, 4Ps beneficiaries, senior citizens and the informal sector through a voucher system given in DOTS TB centers and in private partner hospitals in the region.

Brillantes reminded the public that TB is no longer a disease of the past because it can happen anywhere; at home, in schools, at the workplace and in public places. TB drugs and services are available for free in all TB DOTS centers throughout the country.

“People with TB cases no longer have the reasons not to submit for medical treatment because it is free and accessible,” Brillantes said.