Spitting, crowded dwellings and malnutrition make RP 9th TB-prone
DAVAO CITY – Spitting everywhere, crowded dwellings and malnutrition are major factors that have made the Philippines the ninth country in the world with high incidence of tuberculosis (TB), the Department of Health (DOH) said.
Dr. Paulyn Jean Ubial, DOH director in Southeastern Mindanao told reporters the ranking is based on figures from the World Health Organization.
TB is a curable and preventable disease.
Ubial said TB incidence in Southeastern Mindanao is considered high with at least 5,000 cases detected every year out of the country’s 100,000.
Unsanitary practices such as indiscriminate spitting, she said, pose danger to people since the disease is airborne.
Crowded dwelling in both urban and rural areas where houses and apartments are too close to each other, make it easier for TB bacteria to spread, she added in a press conference a day before the observance of World Tuberculosis Day.
Health workers, she said, have been dispatched to detect the disease in these crowded areas, among them jails around the region, including the Davao Prison and Penal Farm in Davao del Norte.
She said the risk is high in jails because there is a captive population.
She said the DOH has been tasked to coordinate with jail authorities to ensure the campaign will succeed. She cited possibility for a monthly, if not a weekly monitoring schedule in jails and to tap in-house nurses as treatment partners of possible cases.
Ubial said high malnutrition rate in the country is a major cause for TB because malnutrition causes weak immune system.
Ubial said, however, that the stigma that patients are exposed to that keeps those possibly ill of tuberculosis from opening up and getting medication.
She said it is not true that the disease could be spread by via utensils used by patients.
She stressed the disease affects both the poor and the rich.
She pushed for partnership with other sectors to work with the DOH especially in its Directly Observed Treatment Short Course strategy.
The strategy ensures that patients undergo treatment under close watch by a treatment partner to make sure the free medication is taken.
Officials who came with Ubial warned against employers who tend to discriminate against employees found to have TB as the disease is curable.
Ubial urged companies around the region to put up mechanisms to help detect and refer patients for treatment. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)