ARE you experiencing fever and significant weight loss? Is sweating profusely, feeling fatigued, experiencing body malaise or shortness of breath? Or having chest and/or back pains that are not directly caused by a skeletal disorder?

If your answer is yes to anyone of the above conditions in addition to persistent cough of two weeks, then most likely you have pulmonary Tuberculosis.

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TB is a chronic infectious disease caused by TB bacillus primarily affecting the lungs. This is what we usually call pulmonary TB and it’s so easy to catch it by simply inhaling germs released from air droplets from a TB-positive person who has just coughed, sneezed, spitted or shouted.

Napakadaling mahawa ng TB lalo na kung tayo ay nasa isang bahay o gusaling kulob at walang sapat na bentilasyon, sa mga air conditioned na sasakyan, sa malls at shopping centers (lalo na kung sale) o sa iba pang mataong lugar.

Nakakalungkot man sabihin ngunit ang ating bansa ay nananatili pa ring isa sa may pinakamataas na insidente ng TB sa buong mundo. Sa tatlong Pilipino ay tinatayang isa ang may TB at araw-araw ay humigit-kumulang 75 katao ang namamatay dahil sa sakit na ito. Ito ay sa kabila ng katotohanang ang TB ay nagagamot na sa mabilis at madaling pamamaraan.

The good news is that TB can be prevented in very simple ways. The key here is ventilation and breathing in lots of fresh air is one best way to prevent us from catching this disease. This is the reason why aside from ensuring that we get adequate ventilation in our homes, it is best to stay away from crowds especially from people when they are coughing. Wearing a special high micro-filtration mask will surely keep the TB bacilli from finding their way to your respiratory system. Makakatulong din ang madalas na paghuhugas ng mga kamay at ang pagkain ng masustansiya at mayaman sa bitamina, mineral, calcium, protina at fiber.

Kung sa kabila ng pag-iingat ay kinapitan pa rin nito, may isang mabisa, pinakamadali at pinakamurang gamutan ang kasalukuyang itinataguyod ng pamahalaan at ito ang DOTS o Directly Observed Treatment Short-course. Ang DOTS ay itinuturing na pinakamabisang paraan para ma-detect at mapagaling ang isang taong may TB. Sa ilalim ng anim hanggang walong buwang gamutan ay binibigyang diin ang regular at masusing pagsubaybay ng treatment partners sa pag-inom ng anti-TB drugs.

The good news again is that DOTS as a treatment protocol for TB is covered by your PhilHealth. In 2003, we introduced an outpatient package worth P4,000 for eligible members and qualified dependents afflicted with pulmonary and extra-pulmonary TB. The package includes follow up diagnostic work-up (sputum examinations only); follow up consultations; and anti-TB drugs for the six-month treatment cycle. This benefit is available only in accredited TB-DOTS centers or rural health units near and where the member is supposed to be enrolled in for the duration of the treatment.

Before a treatment starts, a TB patient will need to have a direct sputum smear exam done by a qualified microscopist at an accredited facility. It is very important that patients strictly undergo the regimen which includes uninterrupted medication under close supervision by trained health personnel.

Paalala lamang po. Ang mga kwalipikado sa nasabing benepisyo ay mga bagong kaso lamang ng smear-positive pulmonary TB; bagong smear-negative pulmonary case na inirekomenda ng TB Diagnostic Committee; at bagong extra-pulmonary TB patients. Hindi covered ang failure cases; relapse cases; at return after default (RAD) cases.

Tandaan na hindi kailangang ikahiya kung may TB dahil nagagamot ang sakit na ito. Kailangan lamang ay tamang disposisyon at paghahangad na gumaling dahil maraming kasiya-siya at kapaki-pakinabang na gawain ang naghihintay sa isang taong tuluyang gumaling sa TB.

Sama-sama nating sugpuin ang TB.

Mongolians visit PhilHealth

I would like to thank our Mongolian visitors who came in last week to learn about our model of social health insurance and how can they possibly integrate their health care services into SHI. Our heartfelt thanks to Lamjav Gundalai and Dagvadorj Ochirbat who are members of the Parliament of Mongolia; Khuyag Ganbaatar, Executive Director of Mongolia National Employer’s Association; Gursed Dugeree, Head of the Private Sector Employees Trade Union and Member of the Health Insurance Sub-Council; Demchigsuren Ganchimeg, Senior Referent, Cabinet Secretariat of Government; Shagdarsuren Enkhbat, Director of Medical Services Policy Coordination of the Ministry of Health; Batjargal Nyamdavaa, Deputy Director of Strategy Planning Department of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Labor; Purevdorj Erkhembulgan, Deputy Director of Strategic Policy and Planning Department of the Ministry of Health; Taazan Bolorchimeg, Officer of Health Financing and Investment Department; Sandag Tungalagtamir, Officer of Policy Implementation Department of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Labor; and Tsilaajav Tsolmongerel, Team Leader of the GTZ Expert Group.

Maraming salamat sa pagbisita at pag-aaral ninyo sa paseguruhang pangkalusugan ng Pilipinas!