Department of Health (DOH) through its Tuberculosis-Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (TB-HIV) dissemination forum in Cagayan de Oro City campaigns in aggressively looking for the one million cases of tuberculosis (TB) in the country by switching strategies and changing from “business as usual” to “business unusual.”
Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, director of Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of DOH shares that the prevalence of TB in our country continuous to be high. Around one million Filipinos are expected to have TB and may or may not know it. Further, more than one-third of TB patients suffer catastrophic cost due to TB at 20% of the family’s annual income.
On the other hand, Dr. Suy explained that the country also has an alarming 140% annual increase in the number of reported cases of HIV. He announced that we are not the highest in terms of number of HIV cases in the Asia Pacific region but we have an alarming increasing rate of the numbers of HIV cases in the region.
Further, DOH has registered more than 45,000 cumulative cases of HIV. To date, there is still no cure of HIV nor vaccine to prevent its transmission. Meanwhile, persons with HIV is 29 times more likely to develop TB than those without HIV. TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV. One in five deaths of people with HIV is TB.
He said, our country is aggressively aimed to reduce the burden of TB by 2035. “Look for the 1Million cases of TB in the country” is a standing order of Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial.
Meanwhile, TB and HIV services including treatment are free. Dr. Suy said our health workers are competent and facilities are reliable.
For her part, Dr. Anna Marie Celina Garfin of the National TB program explained that TB is still a major health problem based on the 2016 National TB Prevalence Survey. Around 1% of the population or one million out of 100 million total population of the country has TB. Further, this is found more in males and older age group with history of treatment, smoking, diabetes, poor and urban dwellers. There is also low case notification of TB and a poor health seeking behavior with 81% of presumptive TB are not taking any action or self-medicating; 30% consulted a private sector.
She said that impact targets for 2022 is to reduce the number of TB deaths by 50% from 14,000 to 7,000 deaths; reduce TB incidence rate by 15%, reduce to zero number of TB affected households that experience catastrophic costs due to TB and at least 90% of patients are satisfied with the services of DOTS facilities.
On HIV and AIDS, Dr. Gerard Belimac program manager of National HIV, AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) prevention and control program said that DOH focuses on key populations namely the Male having sex with Male (MSM), female sex workers and people who inject drugs – inclusive of young people. For prevention, DOH includes services such as risk reduction counseling – safer sex, community-based treatment for drug users, outreach focused condom distribution and instruction. Meanwhile, diagnosis includes community-based HIV screening, Free HIV testing and counseling, and rapid HIV testing for pregnant women, key populations and TB patients.
For the treatment, DOH provides interventions such as free anti-retrovirals (ARV), outpatient HIV benefit package (P30,000/patient/year to cover for other expenses). For care, DOH provides psychosocial counseling and treatment adherence counseling.
Patients of either TB or HIV may go to various government health facilities including rural health centers, TB-DOTS centers, 130 social hygiene clinics nationwide, 50 satellite or treatment hubs and community based organizations.
Finally, DOH proposes how communities can help. Companies and employers can institutionalize HIV awareness in workplaces, expand the number of HIV treatment hubs, conduct operations researches to improve programs and integrate HIV counseling services in relevant programs. (JMOR/PIA10)