By Minerva Newman
CEBU CITY – The Department of Health (DOH) is screening 16,000 jail inmates in Central Visayas for tuberculosis.
Dr. Sharon Azenith Laurel, regional DOH TB Program Coordinator, said screening equipment such as chest X-rays machines will be brought to the different jails for the mass screening program.
Laurel said this is the first time the regional DOH is carrying out the mass screening of jail inmates.
“Only a few selected cells with recommendations for screening have been given much attention in the previous years. This time, we are screening everyone,” she said.
The inmates will be diagnosed if they are TB-positive through a sputum examination. Inmates who test positive will be transferred to isolation cells, and contact tracing will be done to identify persons who may have come into contact with an infected inmate, Laurel said.
Although the Philippines has been identified as one of the top countries in Asia with a high number of TB cases, the advocacy of case finding activities helped bring down the TB case count.
“We can still do something about it with active case finding for now,” Laurel said.
The screening campaign will cost DOH about P3.5 million and will end around June this year, she said.
Laurel also urged people with abnormal coughing to immediately have a check-up at a health center. She said TB does not require a lifetime treatment and can be cured for as short as six months, with two years being the longest duration for treatment.
World TB Day is observed every March 24, aims to build public awareness on tuberculosis and efforts to eliminate the disease. (With reports from Clyde Piczon, USC intern)