PULMONARY tuberculosis (TB) cases remain a health issue in the city following its 10.76 percent rise in 2009 from 2008, Department of Health in Davao Region said Friday.

DOH's regional coordinating committee (RCC) revealed a partial count of 5,289 cases in 2009 compared to the 4,775 TB cases recorded in 2008.

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"TB kills 75 people every day. A person with untreated TB can infect 10 to 15 people in a single year by merely coughing near them. TB causes more deaths among women than all causes of maternal mortality combined. TB is the main cause of death among people with HIV/AIDS in the Asia Pacific Region," Dr. Parkash Mansukhani said during the Kapihan sa PIA.

The rise on recorded cases, however, is also associated with the intensified campaign against the disease, Dr. Eloisa Lynn Segura, National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) regional medical coordinator said.

"We are doing a 'private-public mix' strategy in which the private hospitals catering to TB patients work in coordination with government hospital. Before, it's only the government's responsibility to tend to TB patients but then to intensify the efforts against the spread of the disease there had to be coordination,” she said.

Segura added: "Through this strategy we were able to get 15 percent of the total count of TB cases. We also have strategies like 'TB in the workplace' wherein establishments are asked to monitor their employees if they have TB. The (Davao) region is most active on promoting private sector involvement.”

The medical experts promoted March 24 as World TB Day. The global theme is "On the move against TB: innovative to accelerate action" while the theme in the country is "Isulong ang laban sa makabagong paraan."

Meanwhile, the country has dropped on the list of countries with the most tuberculosis (TB) cases, Mansukhani said.

Mansukhani said that in 2009 the country placed 9th, two ranks lower than it was in 2008 on the list of countries with the most cases of TB. In the Western Pacific Region, the country in 2009 landed on the 4th spot compared to the 3rd spot it took in 2008.

"In the country, TB has dropped from being on the 5th leading cause of illness and death to the 6th, so we are starting to see a lowering trend but it remains a cause for concern among Filipinos," Mansukhani said.

Mansukhani said that along with the goal of eliminating TB in the country by 2020, the NTP follows a Dots (directly observed treatment on short course chemotherapy) program followed by the hospitals engaged in the public-private mix.

"One, there should be political commitment among the local government unit; diagnosis of drug resistance through quality-assured culture and drug susceptibility testing; uninterrupted supply of quality assured second-line anti-TB drugs; DOT/supervised treatment utilizing second-line drugs under proper management conditions; and the recording and reporting system designed for MDR-TB (multi-drug resistant TB)," Mansukhani said.

The speakers promoted the TB treatment center at the Davao Medical Center, one of two in Mindanao.

Programmatic Management of Drug-Resistant TB nurse Marilyn Castro said the TB treatment center in the city, managed by the Davao Medical Center, caters to Southern Mindanao area.

Castro has urged the patients with symptoms of TB to diagnose early for “early cure.” Generally most people affected by TB belong to class C or those living within and below poverty line, she said.

"We help in financing their (TB patients) treatment, which could go up to two years. Right now we have nine patients being treated at the center," Castro said. (Jade C. Zaldivar)