Tuberculosis remains a 'silent killer'-A A +A
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
AN OFFICIAL of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that tuberculosis (TB) is a silent killer that cannot be confined to a cell.
Sara Beneit Gomez, ICRC health coordinator, said attempts to stop the alarming spread of TB in the Philippines are likely to fail unless concerned authorities significantly increase their efforts to stop the deadly disease from breeding inside prisons.
Gomez said overcrowding, poor nutrition and inadequate health services in jails provide a perfect place for the airborne illness to thrive and spread.
"The incidence of TB inside prisons can be anywhere from 10 to 40 times higher than outside but because it is very contagious, the disease can be easily transmitted to people around like jail guards, staff, visitors and the families of infected, released detainees," Gomez said.
According to Gomez, the Philippines is the ninth among 22 countries in the world with TB high rates.
TB is the sixth leading causes of morbidity and mortality among Filipinos and second leading cause of death among inmates in Philippine jails and prisons.
"Two out of every 1,000 Filipinos have TB and 14 out of 1,000 inmates have TB. The risk of acquiring TB in detention place is seven times higher than the free community," Gomez said.
The ICRC has been working with the detaining authorities in the Philippines to bring TB under control.
At least seven detention centers, including the Tacloban City Jail, are being monitored by the ICRC and concerned agencies like the Department of Health, Bureau of Corrections, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and Philippine Tuberculosis Society for TB prevention measures, improved screening and diagnosis, and medically supervised treatment and follow-up.
"At least four among the seven prison facilities already have their own diagnostic miscroscopy center and more will follow up next year," Gomez said.
"Experience has shown that improved living conditions, including ample doses of fresh air and a diet of healthful foods, a heightened awareness of how TB spreads, and a better understanding by patients of the severe side effects that TB drugs cause, can make a big difference," Gomez said.
The ICRC also recommends that authorities implement the World Health Organization's TB control strategy, known as DOTS, which requires government commitment, regular supplies of medication and observed treatment. Leyte Samar Daily Express