HEALTH authorities and the Cebu City Government launched the local tuberculosis (Tb) program called the Citywide Tb Elimination Campaign (Citec) in Barangays Mambaling and Pasil on Friday, April 30, 2021.
Dr. Sharon Laurel, national health program coordinator of the Department of Health (DOH) 7, said Citec is a platform for initiating the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law that aims to automatically enroll every Filipino in the National Health Insurance Program that will be handled by the PhilHealth through the Tb program.
Citec is a joint undertaking of the DOH 7, Cebu City Government and the state health insurer PhilHealth.
Laurel said the project expects to find around 900 Tb cases initiated on treatment in the next six months.
“In ending Tb, we must screen all identified vulnerable group; test all presumptive cases; treat all diagnosed cases and initiate Tb preventive treatment to all eligible Tb contacts,” she said.
According to the World Health Organization, Tb, an infection of the lungs, is caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis that can be passed on to another person through tiny droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Among the signs and symptoms of active Tb include cough, phlegm with blood, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, loss of appetite and night chills.
The Cebu City Government signed a partnership with the DOH 7 and PhilHealth to implement the UHC through Citec in January.
Laurel said Citec will utilize three case finding initiatives such as the enhanced case finding (ECF), active case finding (ACF) and intensified case finding (ICF).
For both the ECF and ACF, she said Tb navigators will identify households to prioritize (those with Tb case). Visitation to households with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) case, however, can be deferred until its members test negative of the virus.
For persons who have been visited, the households where they reside will be screened and profiled.
They will be advised to undergo chest x-ray, which will also be free of charge.
Tb navigators will then refer diagnosed cases to the Tb care provider network (TCPN) that Citec will set up. The TCPN will be supported by a special health fund for Tb.
The ICF will take place at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center where an integrated Covid-19 and Tb screening will be made.
Dr. Jaime Bernadas, DOH 7 director, said as the country struggles to manage the Covid-19 crisis, critical health programs like Tb have taken a back seat.
“Finding, testing, and treating Tb cases have been made more difficult with the ongoing health crisis, but it has caused us to look at it in the health system with a wider developmental lens,” he said.
He said the Global Tuberculosis Report 2020 shows that the Philippines is fourth worldwide among countries with high Tb incidence.
He said in Cebu City, almost half of the estimated 8,541 Tb cases in 2019 were missed cases, or those Tb cases that were not detected during monitoring. (WBS)